PLATTSMOUTH – Cyclists applauded Tuesday after Cass County commissioners voted unanimously to give financial support for construction of a bicycle and pedestrian trail alongside the Platte River bridge on Highway 75.
The board was the last of agencies to sign on, including Bellevue, Plattsmouth, Sarpy County and two natural resources districts.
Eric Williams, natural resources planner at the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, said it was nice to see collaboration on a regionally-important project.
The Papio-Missouri River NRD is the lead agency, with a commitment of $200,000. The NRD has already constructed about 100 miles of trails along creeks in the metropolitan area.
Williams: “So to the connection to the Platte River and the natural beauty that is associated with both the river and the banks on both sides makes this a great opportunity to bring people that recreation and natural resources access that we work so much on.”
Bellevue Mayor Rita Sanders said it is rare to see cities and counties come together with NRDs and the transportation department. She noted that Cass County officials still have work ahead to make sure farm equipment can cross the bridge when it is classified as part of a freeway system and said the bike path shows that collaboration is best.
She said Bellevue supports the pedestrian and bicycle access to Cass County.
Sanders: “We have to talk regionalization. That’s such an important piece. We’re all going to move around this region anyway, so let’s make it as safe as possible. That’s the number one thing, the safety. The second is the wellness aspect, get more people out and about, and really the historical value of what Plattsmouth has to offer, as well as Bellevue.”
The road department is planning to construct 26 girders to span 14 piers to accommodate the trail along the freeway bridge.
The NRDs, cities and counties will pay about $2 million for phase 2, which includes construction of the trail itself.
Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency is working to secure federal funding of 80 percent of the project.
Local funding commitments are $60,000 for Bellevue, $28,000 for Plattsmouth, $40,000 from Sarpy County and $32,000 from Cass County.
Plattsmouth City Administrator Erv Portis said he has had positive conversations with the state Game and Parks about bringing the trail into Plattsmouth through Schilling Wildlife Management Area.
Cycling supporter Rick Yoder, who is also on the Missouri Iowa Nebraska Kansas corridor development committee, said the trail will open possibilities for Nebraska to be a loop on a trail proposed on the Iowa side of the Missouri River from Sioux City to Hamburg.
Others speaking in support were Julie Harris of the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance and cyclists Joe Simoens and Lois Froistad.
Simoens said he commutes daily over the Platte River, sometimes on bicycle. He urged the county to support the trail over the river, calling it a critical connection for Bellevue and Cass County trails.