Funds from grant will help pay for paved extension of popular Bear Creek walking trail

For months the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department (HPRD) has known it has been “preliminarily awarded” a grant that will enable a new trail section in the Sodalis Nature Preserve to be paved. According to Andy Dorian, director of the HPRD, official notification that the grant is Hannibal’s is anticipated this month.

“They thought it would be August before we heard. Everything had to go to the National Park Service first,” said Dorian during the July meeting of the Park Board.

An on-site visit by grant officials has already taken place.

“They came and did their audit and had no issues,” said Dorian. “Everything looked good.”

The HPRD applied for the Recreational Trails Program Grant in mid February.

A requirement in the grant application process was actually met on Feb. 7 when the City Council approved a resolution in which the city committed to building, operating and maintaining the new section of trail for a minimum of 25 years, if the grant is awarded.

The HPRD requested $37,497 in grant money through a program that is authorized by the U.S. Congress under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, whose purpose is to help states provide and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities. The grant is administered through the Division of State Parks.

The city will need to provide a 20 percent match, which can include in-kind work on the project, plus the $19,500 from The Conservation Fund that went to purchase the land obtained in late December on which the Bear Creek Trail extension will run through the Sodalis Nature Preserve.

Dorian said earlier this year the grant money would be used to cover the cost of base material, asphalt, signage and benches along the new section of trail that will extend to Patchen Street.

Depending on when the grant is awarded, work on what has been officially designated as Phase Three of the Bear Creek Trail Extension could commence as soon as late this year. If that happens it is anticipated the new half-mile section of paved trail could be completed by April 2018.

Dorian predicted late last year that the new section of trail will prove popular.

“What’s neat about that is it’s very scenic and it’s very flat,” said Dorian. “If you’re someone who really can’t do the hills (of Sodalis) but likes to walk, they’ll be able to get on the end (of Bear Creek Trail) by South Main and walk all the way down here (by St. John’s and Patchen streets) and back.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com