Trailblazer - Mizzou Weekly

Trailblazer

Bridging the Gap - A new bridge over Hinkson Creek was the finishing touch on the MU Recreation Trail
Article from Mizzou Weekly
October 4, 2001 issue
Things were hopping this past summer down on Mizzou's stretch of the Hinkson Creek. Most years, much of the activity in that area just south of Epple Field is from MU agricultural scientists planting and harvesting crops at the nearby Zuber Bottoms research plot.

But this summer construction crews were hard at work putting the finishing touches on the last leg of Mizzou's new hiking and biking trail. When three cranes hoisted a 190-foot steel bridge into place over the Hinkson, the entire 3.7 mile trail was completed.

Called the MU Recreation Trail, it's a hiking and biking pathway that connects the core of campus to the city of Columbia's MKT Nature and Fitness Trail. The trail was completed in three phases over the past several years.

Photo of person riding a bicycle.
PEDAL POWER
Larry Boehm, a graphic designer for MU Health Care Web site, took advantage of a recent sunny fall evening to take a cycling excursion on the MU Recreation Trail.
The public is invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony that will be held near the new bridge at 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8 at the south edge of the parking lot at Epple Field. A map of the complete trail appears on Page 6.

As the different sections were completed, a number of MU faculty, staff and students began to use the trail to commute to campus. Eric Pope uses the trail almost every day of the year, unless he has to have his car for some reason at work. That's more than a 10-mile roundtrip commute to his job at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

"Riding to and from work is great exercise and allows me to take advantage of beautiful scenery," says Pope, associate professor of veterinary medicine and surgery. "The new sections along the Hinkson leading from Epple Field are truly beautiful. Being able to stop along the trail under the tree canopy and look at the Hinkson is relaxing."

Pope says the new trail behind the Hearnes Center allows him to commute to work without having to ride on any major streets that don't have bike lanes.

"Previously, I had to come up the shoulder on Providence Road. With the ever-increasing traffic, this was always a concern to me," he says. "The new trail behind the Hearnes Center has a grade that is gentle enough for walkers, runners, and bikers to easily use."

There's another benefit Pope has found in the MU Recreation Trail. Many times on his morning and evening rides, he's come across deer and other wildlife along the trail.

"The commute is healthy for me and healthy for the environment. On the days I do have to drive my vehicle, I have noted that if I try to come in during rush hour it takes me just about as long to drive as it does to ride my bike," he says.

"As a member of the community and member of the faculty I totally support the University' commitment in cooperating with the development of the trail system in Columbia."

The trail begins near the Student Recreation Center on Rollins Road and follows campus sidewalks and streets to the tunnel under Stadium Boulevard at the Memorial Stadium. From there, the trail follows Mick Deaver Memorial Drive beside the stadium and uses a series of switchbacks to angle down a steep hill behind the stadium. The trail then scoots underneath the Hinkson Creek bridge on Stadium Boulevard. A spur of the new trail heads east from MU's Hinkson Creek Recreation Area where it will eventually link up to a city trail from Grindstone Creek that's nearing completion.

Another section of the MU Recreation Trail heads west to the city's MKT Nature and Fitness Trail.

Funding for the project came in part from the Missouri Department of Transportation. The University contributed 40 percent of the cost of the project with funds from Parking and Transportation Services and from the Student Fee Capital Improvement program.

Providing an alternative commuting route to campus was a specific goal of the trail, says Jim Joy, director of Parking and Transportation Services. The more people commute to the University by bicycle, the less pressure there is for parking spaces in the heart of campus.

"Anything we can do to encourage alternative forms of transportation we see as appropriate," Joy says. "This is truly a multi-use trail for bicycles, walking and jogging. Hopefully, students and employees both will see this as a commuting route from where they live to the campus."

Speer Morgan, professor of English, helped launch the new campus trail when he served on a subcommittee of the campus master plan Committee that was exploring bicycle issues.

"The idea was to have a recreation and commuting path that goes out from the heart of campus and which encourages people who are closet bicyclists to ride," Morgan says.

"The trail is just right there - open and obvious- and invites people to walk and ride. We have a nice new asset on campus."

MU Recreation Trail
Map of MU's Recreation Trail