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Healthy travel

Greenways committee provides
community resource for Oldham Countians

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(May 2006) – Ashli Collins and her husband are active runners and triathlon athletes. They were discouraged that there was no place in Oldham County to pursue their hobby. That is, until they stumbled upon Greenways for Oldham County two years ago.

Oldham County Chamber Office

Photo by Don Ward

The Oldham County Interurban Trail
begins at the former train depot in
La Grange. It houses the chamber office.

Established in 1998, Greenways is a nonprofit organization assisting the county in developing a cycling and pedestrian trail that would link La Grange and Pewee Valley. The original route was to follow the old Interurban Railroad corridor, but an environmental study later deemed this path unfeasible. Connector corridors would integrate walking, horse and bike paths.
Collins is now vice president of Greenways and recently gave a Powerpoint presentation highlighting the health benefits that such a trail could offer the citizens of Oldham County. Her presentation was part of a Community Forum held April 18 at the John W. Black Community Center in Buckner, Ky., to showcase the progress and future goals of Greenways.
Collins is concerned with improving the quality of life due to her vocation. She is a pediatrician in La Grange. She thinks Greenway trails would provide inexpensive recreational options and a safe place for children to learn to ride their bikes.
The forum also featured Keith Lovan, president of Kentucky Rails to Trails. Lovan spoke about the economic impact trails have around the country and their effect on tourism.
The keynote speaker for the evening was David Adkisson. This former Mayor of Owensboro, Ky., was “instrumental in getting a trail put in Owensboro,” said Amy Jackson, board member of Greenways. Unsure of the idea at first, “Now people flock to it.”
The Owensboro trail is 11 miles long and will eventually stretch to 16, said Adkisson, president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. He cited many recreational and economic benefits to Oldham County for having such a trail.
“Oldham County is uniquely suited for greenways,” said Adkisson. “The growth of the county will help the development of Greenways for Oldham County.”
Adkisson said the Owensboro community was skeptical of the trail at first because residents didn’t understand the entire concept. “Linear parks are the parks of the 21st century,” he said.
The trail was begun in the early 1990s and is extremely popular. “Its very active on summer evenings,” said Adkisson.
Oldham County needs such a trail to attract and keep active young adults and families within the county, Adkisson believes. With communities and industry competing every day for young talent, Greenway trails, soccer fields and Internet access are amenities a community needs to offer, said Adkisson.
Funding for the Owensboro trail was 80 percent federal, with the remaining 20 percent coming from a variety of sources. Developers donated land around their developments that counted toward the match, and conservation funds were used as well as local dollars.
The county and the city of La Grange are applying for federal Transportation Enhancement Authority (TEA) grants that might benefit Greenways. “The county is really on board with us now,” said Jackson. “This has created new momentum with this project.”
The trail will be 10-12 feet wide. The consultants for a portion of the second phase of the trail are Strand Associates, Inc. said Tiffany Adams, Planning Technician for Oldham County Planning & Zoning. This portion of the tail is still in the preliminary engineering and design phase.
Plans call for development of a two-mile stretch of trail along Commerce Parkway, beginning at Allen Lane in La Grange and ending at Hwy. 393 in Buckner. A TEA grant application was submitted in late March to cover construction costs, said Adams.
A portion of this grant money would also be used for an additional 1.2 acres from Allen Lane to Hwy. 53. The consulting firm of HNTB is working on the Hwy. 53 improvement project, which would expand the potential for a pedestrian walkway along that route.
Some of the trail will be built in conjunction with state road improvements slated for this summer. Sidewalk improvements will be made to Hwy. 53 near the Oldham 8 Cinemas, said Adams. There is also a TARC bus pickup spot located within this lot. By connecting a Greenway trail to it, the city would have an interconnecting transportation system, said Adams.
“Many universities and resort communities have Greenways,” said Adkisson. He added that Greenways for Oldham County “needs an elected official who becomes a champion” for its cause. A dedicated group of citizens will help carry the project toward its completion, he said.
The Oldham County Planning and Zoning Commission plans to hold a public interest forum when contractors are chosen for the next phase of the trail.
Greenways for Oldham County is planning a public meeting in May to establish committees to tackle specific issues involved with the trail project.

• For more information, contact Amy Jackson at (502) 821-7454.

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