GetAboutColumbia to fund new section of trail

Isaac Pasley

Infographic and art by Anna Sheals.

Bicycling has long been a popular way to get around Columbia, and residents will soon have another trail to use for it. As part of a multi-part, $5.1 million federal grant, GetAbout Columbia and Columbia Parks and Recreation have proposed an extension to the County House Trail. Ted Curtis, director of GetAbout Columbia said. The project will cost an estimated $400,000.

Currently, the trail connects the MKT Trail at Twin Lakes Recreation Area with the intersection of College Park Drive and Stadium Boulevard, a distance of about two miles. The extension, if approved, would lengthen the trail to Rollins Road, making it about two-and-a-half miles long.

“There are two extensions to the County House Trail; an east alignment and a west alignment,” Curtis said. “Both go from Stadium to Rollins.”

However, the city has also been considering many other possible routes.

“These are just proposals, among many being looked at, about 20, to be funded by the additional funding the City will provide,” Curtis said.  “The Council will decide which project to go forward with.”

According to the City of Columbia website, the latest of these proposals would extend the existing trail mostly along existing residential streets, with a new trail built connecting the ends of Radcliffe Drive and Cowan Drive.

The new segment, upon approval, would be the second phase of construction of the trail. The first phase, the part that is currently open, connects Twin Lakes to Stadium Boulevard. The City of Columbia ultimately plans to lengthen the trail to Albert-Oakland Park in the northeast part of the city. There, it would connect with Bear Creek Trail, providing a direct pathway between Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Area and the MKT Trail.

The extension to the County House Trail is going to be a useful addition to the city because it will give residents north of Stadium Boulevard direct access to downtown, junior Jack Scoville said.

“I bike on the trails a lot, and I usually go downtown from my home,” Scoville said. The new trail is “something different for me to do.”

In Scoville’s case, the trail extension will be beneficial because for him, biking is not just fun, but is a part of his regimen as a cross-country runner.

“It’s a great way for me to stay in shape because I’m a cross-country runner,” Scoville said. However, “It’s [also] a great way to get around, especially on the trails.”

The trail extension will benefit the community because bicycling has for a long time been popular among many of Columbia’s residents.

“The new trail will bring a lot more people out onto the trails than there are now,” Scoville said.

In general, the trail extension will benefit the city of Columbia because besides creating areas where it’s citizens can exercise, it provides a cheaper, sustainable and healthy alternative to driving.

“All the trail projects are designed to encourage non-motorized transportation by providing safe option to driving a car,” Curtis said. “The trails not only allow people to walk or bike for transportation, leaving their vehicles at home, [but] they [also] provide a place for recreation and exercise.”
By Isaac Pasley