The Process of Building a Hike and Bike Trail
It is often difficult for the public to see everything involved in the design and construction process of many public work projects, like a hike and bike trail. For a hike and bike trail, the very first task is a conceptual study to determine where the next portion of the trail system should be built. In the case of the Patee Trail Phase 1, city staff recommended to start at 32nd Street, near Mark Twain school, run along school property and then along former railroad property until reaching 36th Street. Once this location was confirmed, a preliminary alignment and cost estimate was made. This data was used to apply for a federal grant, which can be used for hike and bike trails. Most grants for these types of projects are 70 to 80 percent funded by the federal government with the remainder coming from the city. The grant application then goes to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to compete with other applications for approval. If the project gets approved, the project and grant is presented to the City Council for approval to sign the agreement to proceed. For Patee Trail Phase 1, the city was fortunate to receive approval for the grant, but this process took about six months.
The next step is to hire a consultant to survey the section of the proposed trail so site information can be obtained and sent to the designer. For the
Patee Trail Phase 1 project, t
his process took about two months. Only then was it time to begin the layout and design of the project by a city staff member as this takes about three months. During this time, staff was also working on the environmental issues for the project. Most of the items reviewed have no impacts except for one, the Threatened and Endangered (T&E) review. There are two types of bats in our area who are on the endangered spices list, the Indiana and the Northern Long-Eared bat. A MoDOT T&E specialist had to visit the site to see if there were any trees these bats used for their habitat. It was determined there were these type of trees within the limits of the project. MoDOT marked these trees and the consultant had to return to locate them using their survey crew. Due to the alignment needed for economical construction, several of these identified trees needed to be removed. Since these trees can only be cut down during the winter months, this further delayed the project nearly a year before crews could go in and take these trees down.
Also during this time, staff worked to identify and secure all of the necessary right-of-way needed to proceed with the project from the school district, property owners and the railroad. This took about six more months to acquire.
Once the design, environmental and right-of-way was in place, it was time to send everything to MoDOT for their approval to bid the project. Their review and the determination of certain federal stipulations took about two more months to perform. Then comes the biding of the project. After the bid, the city compiles and sends all of the bidding information to MoDOT for their concurrence on awarding the project to the low bidder. From there, City Council approved the project construction securing the contractor and the city signatures, which took about two months to finish.
Finally, comes part of the project most residents see: the construction of the trail. By this time, most would agree this is the easy part of the project. While the contractor had a 100 working-day contract to finish their work, they also had to verify their city license and secure city and land disturbance permits to perform the work. The very last item is getting all the paperwork from the contractor the city and MoDOT requires to finish and close the project while also verifying the grant was used for the approved purpose. At this point, the project is complete.
As you can see, it takes a great deal of information, coordination and patience to accomplish this type of work, even for only four blocks of trail construction. In most cases, even if everything goes well, these type of projects will take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Once completed, the trail is ready for residents to use and enjoy.