Walkers, runners and bicyclists were all anxious to hit the trail June 3, 2011 as Jackson County and the City of Independence officially opened a three-and-a-half-mile extension of the Little Blue Trace Trail.
The eastern Jackson County trail now stretches nearly 15 miles, but County Executive Mike Sanders vowed that the Little Blue Trace will continue to grow. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday, he announced a partnership between the County and City of Kansas City, Missouri to complete a one-mile extension of the trail into the city limits of Kansas City.
Sanders' vision for the Little Blue Trace goes beyond that one-mile addition, however.
"Today's ribbon cutting is only a beginning," he said. "The Little Blue Trace is the spine of what will become a metropolitan-wide trails system that is second to none."
Eventually, the Little Blue Trace trail will be extended to Longview Lake.
The new section of the trail opened last Friday runs under both Interstates 70 and 470. The project was funded primarily through $648,186 in Transportation Enhancement funds from the Missouri Department of Transportation. Jackson County invested $157,667 in the project.
Jackson County's contribution involved constructing a 2.5-mile extension that takes the Little Blue Trace from U.S. Highway 40 and under I-470, creating access to the trail to communities located west of I-470. Now residents in those communities can walk or bicycle on the trail to offices, shops and restaurants located east of I-470. The 2.5-mile extension is 10 feet wide and consists of a limestone aggregate surface.
Independence, meanwhile, extended the trail one mile, going west under I-70 and to just past U.S. Highway 40. This extension is also 10 feet wide.
Jackson County Legislator Crystal Williams (2nd District At-Large) praised the work completed on the trail, saying, "It's a beautiful walk. It's a beautiful run. It's a beautiful ride."
The County added new amenities along the Little Blue Trace, including benches, picnic tables, mileage markers and renovated shelters.
Other elected officials joining Sanders and Williams in last Friday's ribbon cutting were Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo, Independence Mayor Pro Tem Jim Schultz, Independence Council member Myron Paris, Missouri State Senator Will Kraus (8th District) and Missouri State Representative Noel Torpey (District 52).