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Wayne nearing completion of extensive trail networks

WAYNE, Neb. (AP) — Bikers, walkers and runners in Wayne will soon have the chance to enjoy a trail looping the entire community.

After years of planning, Phase II of the Wayne City Trail is expected to be completed within the next month. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned some time in November, said Lowell Heggemeyer, Wayne’s parks and recreations director.

The Norfolk Daily News reports that construction on the current phase of the project began this past spring, and the only remaining work to be done is the completion of an underpass at Highway 35 on the west side of town near the high school.

The idea to loop a trail through town was first broached in January 2001 when Wayne’s mayor at the time, Sheryl Lindau, asked the city council to appoint a hiking and bike trail committee, according to Joel Hansen, Wayne’s street and planning director. Over the next couple of years, discussions about design and funding took place, and in 2003, the trail committee developed a concept plan.

The committee developed a four-phase plan that totaled nearly 20 miles of connecting trails that were outlined to run through every corner of town, as well as an area northeast of Wayne extending as far north as the Wayne-Dixon county line.

The first phase of the trail, a 2.75-mile section named after the late Dr. Will Wiseman, was completed in 2004 and begins just west of Providence Medical Center on Lindahl Drive. This portion of the trail travels southwest through town, passes underneath Highway 15 on the south end of town and ends at Victor Park.

Phase I cost $498,000, and Wayne was responsible for 20% of those costs. Since the Phase I completion in 2004, the city’s focus has been on completing the necessary steps to build Phase II of the trail, Hansen said.

Phase II of the project, which is being constructed by contractors from T.R. Harris of Homer, extends the trail from Victor Park and runs west before cutting north through the western half of town. The Leila Maynard Trail, which more than doubles the length of the existing trail, ends at the intersection of Highway 15 and Lindahl Drive just west of Wayne State College.

The current phase cost $2.6 million and was funded primarily by the state. The City of Wayne was again responsible for 20% ($520,000) of the cost, according to Beth Porter, Wayne’s finance director.

“This phase was a lot more expensive than the first one, and a lot of that was because there were more hoops to jump through,” Heggemeyer said. “This part of the trail not only runs through people’s driveways, but it also required construction of an underpass; and we had to deal with a variety of trees and plants throughout the route as well, so it’s really nice to see the project start to come full circle.”

Discussions for Phase II began in 2007, but the design and planning were complicated by various regulations, such as the potential infringement of nature along the trail, as well as the requirement that the trail doesn’t have more than a 2% horizontal slope when passing along homeowners’ driveways.

Heggemeyer said the federal government also has beefed up its oversight of federal fund usage, and the state was required to submit a manual to the federal government a number of years ago outlining how it would more effectively monitor the money being spent on different projects. A rule also was implemented requiring that an engineer be at the construction site whenever contractors were present.

“People tend to think of the trail as recreation, but it’s actually designed for transportation,” Hansen said. “So during the design of the layouts, they (the trail commission) were required to provide a link between different areas. The trail connects Wayne State College, several parks, the summer sports complex and the community activity center. The city’s got several parks and activity centers tied together through this trail, and it really links together several points of interest.”

The southernmost point of the trail underneath Highway 15 suffered significant flood damage in March 2019, and repairs on that section, totaling more than $1 million, were completed last month.

Although the original trail design in 2001 outlined a four-phase plan, Hansen said there aren’t any plans to extend the trail beyond its second phase. Hansen did note, however, that within the next few months, the city hopes to gain approval to add benches and resting areas throughout the trail.

The Wayne City Trail now totals 5§ miles and also is connected to the WSC Fitness Trail, which is about a mile long.

“The new addition isn’t even officially open yet, and people are already out there jogging on it and putting it to use,” Heggemeyer said. “I think most everyone is happy that we have a trail that takes you through the entire community.”

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