Columbia crosses bridge with future trail improvements

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COLUMBIA - A grant approved during Monday night's city council meeting will allow for the city of Columbia to make several improvements to its trail system.

The first improvement includes the reconstruction of two bridges on the MKT trail. 

"A lot of people don't know that these bridges were part of a railroad system," City Park Planner Mike Snyder said. "Now they are extremely old and have become a safety concern."

Snyder said the two bridges are more than 100 years old. He also said construction for the bridges is due to begin in December of 2017.

"We want to limit the inconvenience that may be caused during the construction that's why we are constructing during the winter months," Snyder said. 

Snyder also said he understands that there are people who enjoy the trails during the winter so during construction, alternative routes will be provided. 

Another change coming to the trails are informational signs. 

City Planner Janet Godon said the trails were designed to get people to where they "work, live and play" but there has been one constant criticism. 

"Sometimes people don't actually know where they can go on our trails," Godon said. 

Godon said the new sign additions will give trail users a better idea of where they can travel on the trails. Currently, there are only a total of four trail signs. Godon said the city plans to add 19 signs in addition to the four along the 26-mile stretch.

"This will help people be more aware of where they are on the trails and where those trails can get them," Godon explained.

Trail rules and regulations will also be on the new signs. Godon said having the rules on the sign will reduce trail-user conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. 

"Occasionally we hear from cyclists and pedestrians that people aren't moving over as far right as is safe," she said. 

The grant allows for the sign process take three years but Godon said she hopes they can begin putting signs up starting Fall of 2017.