A key portion of the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail will be closed for six months while the city replaces three aging bridges along its path. Beginning in November, a section of the trail southwest of Stadium Drive and east of the 3M Flat Branch-Hinkson Creek Wetlands will be completely closed in order to replace bridges 5, 7 and 8.
The replacements are one part of a larger program to replace all 13 bridges along the trail that are under city jurisdiction, according to city Park Planning and Development Superintendent Mike Snyder.
"They are all old railroad bridges — some over 100 years old — and are all in different states of quality," Snyder said. "They will all have to be replaced in the next 20 to 30 years." He said three of the trail's bridges have been replaced already.
The project is still in the design phases, and what the bridges will actually look like is unclear, but Snyder said they will be built with steel and wood construction similar to the newer bridges.
For the period that the trail section is closed, regular users will have to use an alternate routes. The recommended detour will put trail users on Stadium Drive and Forum Boulevard.
Rerouting runners and cyclists along such busy roads raises safety concerns, Snyder said, but many cyclists ride along the shoulder of Stadium now, and that is what officials are asking trail-goers to do.
Snyder added that the work was being done in the winter so construction will disrupt as few activities as possible.
"If we have beautiful weather, we will probably wait until after Thanksgiving break to inconvenience the citizens of Columbia as little as possible," Snyder said about the project's November start date.
A meeting for those interested in the project will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, 800 Stadium Blvd. Interested residents are invited to attend, view the plans and ask staff any questions.
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