The engineers' conceptual map of the walking path through Watson Park and along Logan is shown above. The solid line was approved in the grant. The dotted lines were alternative plans and were not approved. In addition, sidewalks along the south side of 4th from Main to Merchant were approved in the $338,155 grant.
Belle Plaine receives $338,155 for walking path
and sidewalk improvements
The City of Belle Plaine has been awarded $338,155 in a state Transportation Alternatives Grant for sidewalk improvements to provide a walking path in Watson Park and increased pedestrian safety in other areas.
The Kansas Department of Transportation grant will provide funding for a path in Watson Park that will loop around the ball diamonds for a safe off-street walking area.
More importantly, the path will link to Friend Street on the north, via the new pedestrian bridge at that location, and continue to the corner of 4th and Logan. At that corner it will meet sidewalks also being provided as part of a grant for rebuilding K-55 Highway.
“This section of the path will provide a space to keep pedestrians, including bicyclists, off of Logan,” said Mayor Greg Harlan, who added that the grant application was fully supported by all City Council and city staff members. “Having our children out of traffic, on a street with virtually no shoulders, is a major move to better safety.”
This section of the improvements will provide a lighted crossing beacon at 7th and Logan. The crossing will become ADA compliant and land on the southwest corner of the intersection, where the city already owns property.
The second portion of the project, with provide a path on the south side of 4th (K-55) from Merchant to Main. Crosswalks will be marked at both ends of the block.
“In the initial walk-through before the grant application was completed, the engineers emphatically said that this block of sidewalk is also crucial to the increased safety of our children,” said Maintenance Supervisor Ramon Lujan. “It provides another place for them to walk, whether going to school or to the park and pool in the summertime.”
The Transportation Alternatives program is associated with the Safe Routes to Schools program. Previous work by the Belle Plaine community to receive Safe Routes funding helped with this application, as there was proof that work is ongoing to improve the areas where people are walking. The grant application also fit the three pillars of the Transportation Alternative grant program – security, connectivity, and welcoming to the community.
The city will have to provide $84,539 in funding for the project. The money will come from the American Rescue Plan funds which the city received over the past two years. That funding was designed to help cities following the economic constraints of the Corona-virus pandemic.
The walking areas in this project will join sidewalks to be built in the project that is also slated to start in 2023 and rebuild K-55 Highway. The state added funding to the City Connecting Link Improvement Program, which will provide a walking path from Logan to Line. That path will create a marked, ADA-safe crossing at 4th and Logan and sidewalks on the north side of the street to Linden. From Linden to Line the sidewalks will be on the south side of the street.
“We are excited about the changes which will occur with these projects,” Harlan said. “It will dramatically improve the look and feel of our community and quality of life in Belle Plaine.”