Representatives from a neighboring county spoke to the Fort Scott City Commission recently about a proposed bicycle trail in Bourbon County.
John Leahy, Thrive Allen County Bike and Trails Coordinator and John Castellaw the Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for Thrive
covered a brief history of how the Prairie Pathways plan (approved by Bourbon County, Allen County, and Crawford County) was the first rural active transportation plan in Kansas.
The men then detailed the entirety of the route along old Highway 54 from Fort Scott to Iola, to the city commission, Leahy said.
“We needed to appear before the (FS)city council because we were seeking final approval of the signs for the Prairie Pathways within Fort Scott city limits,” he said.
“The route has been set in all three counties,” Jody Hoener, Healthy Bourbon County Action Team CEO said.
“Bourbon County will have approximately 23 miles of the total 43 miles from Fort Scott to Iola,” Leahy said.
“We are working on gaining permission through each of the cities (in Bourbon County),” Hoener said. “We have obtained permission for signs from the City of Fort Scott. They will also be presenting to the City of Uniontown and to Bronson City Council to gain permission for sign placement.
“Eric Bailey with Bourbon County’s Public Work will be helping us with installing (sign) posts,” she said. ” Right now they are working hard on getting as many miles as asphalt down as possible. They will help us with installation as soon as they can.”
“Allen County, Bourbon County, and Crawford County (ABC) are actively working to improve the bicycling and walking environment to improve access to opportunities for physical activity, enhance the quality of life, and encourage economic growth”, according to information provided by Leahy . “Each community recognizes that active transportation – biking and walking for transportation, as well as outdoor recreation – impacts our lives in several important ways. Research, such as the cost-benefit analysis The Potential Trail Benefits for Bourbon County, Kansas, (Robb, 2017) has shown trails to do more than add to community’s appeal as a place to live, such as:
● Increased sales for existing businesses
● Opportunities for new business
● Increased value and speed of sale of nearby properties
● Reduced medical costs from healthy activities
● Business location and relocation decisions
● Healthcare insurance decisions
● Addresses rural transportation issues
● Low or no-cost recreational opportunity
● Attracts and retains a skilled and unskilled workforce
● It helps lower transportation costs, both for individuals and for communities as a whole;
● Provides attractions for visitors”
The ABC plan’s name was recently changed to Prairie Pathways, he said.
“In respect to a timeline, Thrive is working with both Allen County Public Works as well as the City of Iola Public Works Department,” he said. “We are trying to coordinate both so the signs are installed along a similar time frame after the…(Allen County Public Works)asphalt season.”