Priority bike, ped projects revealed

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Jody Hoener, representing the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team, talks about a bicycle and pedestrian master plan for Fort Scott during an presentation Tuesday at City Hall. Pictured are photos showing a proposed two-mile concrete trail project along the U.S. Highway 69 corridor that is part of the plan.
Jason E. Silvers/Tribune

A group working with the local Healthy Bourbon County Action Team unveiled a list of priority projects in a bike and pedestrian plan for Fort Scott during a presentation Nov. 14 at City Hall.

Abby St. George, a representative of the PedNet Coalition, a nonprofit based in Columbia, Mo., and Jody Hoener with the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team, spoke to a small group of people about a proposed plan to create improvement projects geared toward a healthier community. The purpose of a non-motorized transportation plan is to address barriers toward a healthier community and provide more access to transportation options and healthy food choices.

In 2016, the team, a subgroup of the Fort Scott Visioning Steering Committee, received a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas toward creating a healthier county. PedNet has helped local officials by conducting an assessment of the community’s sidewalks, trails and other infrastructure. The grant project consists of a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian master plan and healthy food assessment for Fort Scott, a countywide trail plan and an individual community plan for Uniontown.

St. George said there are five parts to the bicycle and pedestrian master plan for Fort Scott. The first part involves benefits of the plan; the second part outlines a methodology and history of Fort Scott; the third part takes a look at current facilities and opportunities; and the fourth part narrows down a list of priority projects. The final piece is implementation of the plan. PedNet contracted with the city and the action team for the assessment.

When looking at all the potential opportunities, options for trails that connect various rural communities were also included.

St. George said PedNet used community feedback from a forum in June, as well as an assessment of current infrastructure to develop the plan. All of the information was used to prioritize projects and create a list of the projects that would “have the biggest impact on the quality of life for our community.”

Hoener said the group also obtained feedback from community members, the plan’s website, local media, and social media. The group also talked to several different local organizations.

One benefit is having infrastructure in place that “improves health and healthcare,” and increases physical activity in the community.

As the cost to complete all projects in the opportunity list would be too great, the list was also narrowed down to priority projects that would offer the highest return on investment.

Some of the goals for the non-motorized transportation plan include improved health and healthcare costs, reduced transportation costs, a boost in economic development, and an increase in the qualify of life. St. George said it is important to have “access to healthy food, jobs and recreation.”

Hoener said one potential economic benefit is to use proposed trails “to bring in broadband” to the community. The plan could also attract younger people to the community.

St. George said the plan contains a document that also lists “potential opportunities for biking and walking in the community.” The group looked at sidewalks, trails and on-street facilities to determine projects.

“And one of the goals is it provides a direction for future planning,” St. George said. “It also creates a non-motorized transportation network that connects the community and makes safe and accessible routes.”

At the public meeting in June, maps of potential trails in Fort Scott and the county were available for attendees to view and add input. Some ideas were shared involving connecting trails and sidewalks with existing hiking and biking trails at Gunn Park, a walking trail at Fort Scott Community College, as well as local street, sidewalk and highway projects.

“We got some feedback from those maps of areas and trail areas,” St. George said. “About 40 people gave feedback.”

The PedNet group also garnered feedback from a website on the plan and members of the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team steering committee.

The list of priority projects for Fort Scott includes eight sidewalk projects, one trail project and 11 on-street facility projects, the latter of which include five bike lanes and six crosswalk improvements. Improvements are geared toward making safer walking and biking areas in communities.

“And this is just an idea. A city is not required to build all of these,” St. George said.

“And these projects could take awhile to be built, and it could take awhile to see the benefits,” she said.

The sidewalk projects, as well as estimated costs, include adding a sidewalk along 23rd Street from Horton to South Main Street, $124,824; 18th Street from Fort Scott Community College trail parking to South National Avenue; $107,940; Gunn Park to Horton Street, $94,390; Sixth Street from Heylman to Andrick, $263,024; Margrave Street from 18th Street to Fourth Street, $276,725; an FSCC route of sidewalks connecting students and residents to the college, businesses and neighborhoods, $375,533; a route of sidewalks on the east side of town connecting various locations, $384,412; and a route on Shepherd Street near the middle school, $104,994. Total cost for the sidewalk projects is about $1.7 million.

A two-mile concrete trail project along the U.S. Highway 69 corridor from the Marmaton River on the north to East National Avenue on the south would cost an estimated $1.9 million.

The crosswalk improvements would be at Sixth and Horton; south of 19th Street across Horton; 18th and Horton; E. National Avenue and Margrave; Crawford and Sixth Street; and Margrave and Sixth Street at a total cost of $45,800. Improvements include flashing beacons, signs, new curbs, painted crosswalks and work to make areas ADA compliant.

St. George said improvements at crosswalks have proven to increase motorist compliance to crosswalks from 18 percent to 88 percent.

Bike lane improvements would be at Horton from just north of Meadow Lane to Sixth Street, $73,500; Sixth Street from Horton to Broadway, $50,000; Margrave from Sixth to E. National, $48,500; S. National Ave., from Seventh to Jersey St., $47,500; and Wall from State to Brown St., $65,000. Total cost would be $284,500.

Total cost of all of the Fort Scott projects would be about $4 million. One aspect of the plan would be to look at funding sources and determine how projects would be funded. Officials plan to look at various funding options, such as grants, available through local, state, federal and nonprofit sources.

“We have a limited amount of funds for the different pathways,” Hoener said. “If we put all the money into one pathway we won’t be able to make an impact on other pathways.”

She said other grant funds have been spent on smaller projects for trails, signs and kiosks in the county.

Hoener said she plans to take the master plan to the Fort Scott City Commission soon for approval and to decide priorities.

“So they can formally adopt the non-motorized plan for the city,” she said. “It also gives us a strategy and goal to work toward. And it’s also to seek permission to seek out and apply for grants.”

A separate plan for Uniontown has already been adopted by the Uniontown City Council and is “on to the next stage to figure out funding,” Hoener said.

“It’s up to cities to adopt a plan so that gives city employees permission to seek out additional grants to fund the project,” she said.

The Uniontown plan includes improvements to a sidewalk running from the north side of Fifth Street from Union Station to the entrance of Uniontown Junior Senior High School at a cost of $49,850; an additional sidewalk improvement beginning at Fifth Street paralleling the West Bourbon Elementary School driveway, $3,570; and crosswalk improvements at Fifth Street and Kansas Highway 3, Fifth and Washington streets, Fifth and Sherman streets and Clay and Fifth streets at a total cost of $44,000.

Grand total of Uniontown projects is $97,420.

During the Monday meeting, Frank Halsey representing the Gunn Park Trails committee said he hopes for the plan to “create a more cycling-friendly community” and raise awareness of the cycling community.

In 2016, Bourbon County was one of eight Kansas communities chosen as a grantee in the largest community grant program ever funded by BCBS of Kansas. The HBCAT received a $100,000 coordination grant and has opportunities to apply for non-competitive implementation and achievement grants the next few years. Total possible investment in grant dollars is $500,000.

Seven different pathways can be used in the grant program. With each pathway, a certain amount of moony can be used for implementation of funds. The pathways are community policy, resident/community well-being, the food retail sector, health care, restaurants, schools and worksites.

Hoener said about $55,000 in grant money was used to pay for the PedNet assessment and surveys “so we can pass policy at the city level to adopt the plan.”

“The grant is about policy and environmental change,” she said.

Hoener said other grant funds were distributed to different entities such as worksites that completed a foundation plan were able to receive $10,000 “to change environmental or policy.” Area schools received $10,000 toward creating a healthy environment and access to healthy options. Other entities that represent pathways are restaurants and grocery stores.

More information on the plans and the groups involved can be found at