Midland Trail may be built to 31st Street this year

       The Midland Trail, which currently ends at 21st Street on its west end, could be built to 31st Street this year.
       “It's still in the planning stages,” said Chris Lieber, trails coordinator for Colorado Springs Parks. “We have nearly all the right of way we need. There are just a couple of small parcels that still need to be acquired… We hope to construct it later this year.”
       From the current terminus at 21st Street near Sheldon Avenue, the trail will follow 21st south, then go west in the area of the Highway 24 frontage road called Naegele Street. Where Naegele turns into 25th Street, the trail will continue along Fountain Creek and probably under the bridge at 26th Street, he said.
       From there, it will continue west along the creek until around 28th Street, then cut northwest to a right of way along an undeveloped section of Cucharras Street before reuniting with the creek corridor near 31st Street, just north of Highway 24.
       Where the trail follows the creek, it will use low-water crossings in some places to go from one side to the other. “It's a tough section of trail, but very beautiful at the same time because it's down in a riparian corridor with cottonwood trees and a creek adjacent to it,” Lieber said.
       He explained that building the trail along Fountain creek will include cleaning out overly thick vegetation, which could help alleviate a problem with transients camping along the creek at times. “There will be fewer places to hide, if you will, and better visibility,” he said. In addition, the trail would be wide enough for police and emergency vehicles to use.
       Obtaining the necessary rights of way has taken years of effort. The first Midland Trail segment, from Chestnut Street to 21st Street, chiefly follows the old Denver & Rio Grande Railroad right of way. But that right of way ends at 21st. For the new segment, “We had some land donated, we purchased some, and other land we've had for some time,” Lieber said.
       Funding for the trail extension is coming from the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) sales tax and a federal transportation enhancement grant, he said.
       There is no money nor a precise plan yet for building the trail west from 31st Street. Lieber said the city is working in conjunction with the ongoing Westside Highway 24 planning process, which will probably lead to a reworking of the 31st Street/Highway 24 intersection in future development plans.

Westside Pioneer article