A group of bikers and hikers had perfect weather as they got their first chance to experience the new Little Blue Trace Trail Extension Thursday morning.
Jackson County Parks + Rec Director Michele Newman welcomed guests during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the trail’s $1.1 million extension October 19, at the trailhead, the corner of Lee’s Summit Rd. and Phelps Rd. The nearly one mile of new trail expands the multi-use trail to 15.5 miles which now runs through parts of Independence, Kansas City and Lee’s Summit. The extension is paved and includes two pedestrian bridges and a new trailhead with parking for 41 cars.
County Executive Frank White, Jr., said, “Our parks system is one of Jackson County’s crown jewels and it’s no secret that what we do well in Jackson County is trails. So today, I’m proud to celebrate another project that improves the quality of life of our citizens.”
White thanked the City of Kansas City who split the cost of the extension equally with Jackson County. He also thanked, “those whose time and talents are responsible for the success of this project… Jackson County Parks + Rec, under the leadership of Director Michele Newman, everyone worked as a team to design the landscaping, install signage, and complete the finishing touches. Jackson County Public Works, Director Brian Gaddie and his team of associates played a key role in the day-to-day inspection work.”
“Every project has its challenges, but most don’t face three floods in four weeks. It is with great respect to say this team finished this project on time and on budget. Let’s continue to go make things happen in Jackson County,” White said.
Kansas City Councilwoman Alissia Canady said the most important part of the project was, “…the collaboration that we were able to accomplish between the city and the county with our regional partners of Lee’s Summit on the Lee’s Summit Road project, at the state level as well, the funding that we received to make improvements along this corridor, but the biggest impact is for the livability of the residents here in Little Blue Valley. To have 15.5 miles of trail to be able to traverse without worrying about if you should bring your kids or your pets like I did today, and to be able to enjoy the nature.”
“When we make investments like this,” she said, “we make investments in community. When we make investments in community, we make investments in people being able to develop relationships because the trailheads are starting points, these will be gathering places for people to come together and build relationships for years to come. So with that, I thank you all for your support and your partnership on this initiative.”
Kansas City Parks Director Mark McHenry added that the trail extension is yet another highlight of the yearlong celebration of the 125th year of Kansas City’s Parks and Recreation Department.
According to Newman the Little Blue Trace Trail began in 1978 as a flood control project and is planned to eventually connect to the Rock Island shared-use tail and then ultimately, Longview Lake. The trail has been constructed in many phases using multiple funding sources.