Controversy surrounds city's plan for bike trail expansion

Cyclists say the trail expansion would be great for the city, but some feel the project overshadows others they say are more important.

Posted: Jun 23, 2019 11:12 PM
Updated: Jun 24, 2019 10:12 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The city of St. Joseph is talking trails, and so too are area cyclists. Last week, city council members approved to seek a grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation to expand the biking trail system in town.

Area cyclists said they support the idea of making it easier to explore the city and region on two wheels.

"Anything that we can do to increase the cycling and pedestrian infrastructure I think is a good thing," Carl Birdsell, a cyclist said. 

Cyclists cite the potential economic impact of connecting the city to area bike trails.  

"It can only be a benefit for this town," Chris Farney, a cyclist said. 

Farney, who commutes to and from work every day by riding on the trail said the improvements to the trail system are a great way to boost tourism.

"You’re getting people out into different area they’re only gonna help your community," Farney said. 

The move hasn’t come without controversy however, some northside residents are concerned the trail system will cut through their property. City leaders stressed that no exact path has been set as of yet.

Those same residents also said they’d like to see funds go to putting in sidewalks for nearby Pershing Elementary School citing safety concerns for children and families.

The city said money for the trails project was voter approved and thus must be used for trail expansion.

Cyclists we spoke with said they’ve seen the impact trails have had on small communities in other parts on the region, they say they’d love to see that replicated here.

"There are opportunities to do the same thing here with expanded cycling infrastructure," Birdsell said. 

The debate might continue for some, for others the choice is clear.

"For me," Farney said. "It's a no brainer."

Capital Improvement Project funds will be used along with MoDOT grant money to fund the trail expansion.  

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