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Hopkinsville City Council OKs grant application for proposed $6.5 million rail-trail extension

This map shows the proposed route for Phase III of the Hopkinsville Greenway with a pedestrian bridge crossing over Eagle Way near the Hopkinsville Fire Department’s substation and the water park.
City of Hopkinsville
This map shows the proposed route for Phase III of the Hopkinsville Greenway with a pedestrian bridge crossing over Eagle Way near the Hopkinsville Fire Department’s substation and the water park.

The plan includes a pedestrian bridge over Eagle Way bypass and hinges on the federal grant covering 80% of the construction cost.

City officials are proposing an estimated $6.5 million extension of Hopkinsville’s rail-trail from Foston Chapel Road to the city’s water park off Eagle Way bypass.

It would require a pedestrian bridge crossing all four lanes of the bypass near the fire department’s substation. Most of the money would come from a federal transportation grant — if it is approved.

The project came to light during Tuesday’s Hopkinsville City Council meeting. Council members voted unanimously to authorize an allocation of approximately $1.3 million to $1.4 million, which is 20% of the project in matching money required for the grant application.

Mayor James R. Knight Jr. backs the proposal, which hinges on the federal transportation grant of approximately $5.1 million through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Stacy Cook, who is Hopkinsville’s grant writer, said the city expects to learn this fall if the application is approved for Phase III of the Hopkinsville Greenway System.

Previously, city officials had speculated that Phase III would have a tunnel to go below the bypass. However, Knight told Hoptown Chronicle after Tuesday’s meeting that state officials would not approve that option.

As recently as a day or two before the council meeting, a plan was being developed to use a cross walk on the bypass at LaFayette Road. That option lost favor when the mayor and council members began looking at the risk of having people walking across the bypass.

Councilman Chuck Crabtree pointed to the speed of traffic and advocated for another option.

“How do you put a price tag on a young person’s life?” said Knight.

Although the city is waiting on possible designs from an engineer, Knight said the bridge would be similar to the rail-trail pedestrian bridge that crosses Country Club Lane and LaFayette Road. It was installed for Phase II of the greenway, a $4.6 million project that was completed in November 2020.

Several council members agreed Phase III should go over the bypass to address safety concerns.

“I agree wholeheartedly that the bridge is the way to go,” said Councilman Steve Keel. But he added, “I love the bridge. I don’t love the price tag.”

The bridge option will cost roughly $700,000 more than the design using a cross walk at LaFayette Road. It would cross the bypass at an angle.

“The reason we’re going at an angle is because we’ve got to ramp it up and ramp it down,” Knight told Hoptown Chronicle. “It’s not going to just go straight across.”

There will be a barrier wall about 4 to 5 feet tall along a section of the rail-trail that would run parallel to the bypass. This will prevent pedestrians from being hit if a car veers off the road, the mayor said.

Phase III will bring the rail-trail to a “destination” with access to the water park, the Stadium of Champions and the ball fields at Tie Breaker Park.

Knight said he wants to complete this phase of the rail-trail because it was part of the original plan envisioned by previous mayoral administrations. Dan Kemp was mayor when Phase I of the rail-trail was constructed from the public library and North Drive to Pardue Lane. Then, Carter Hendricks was mayor when Phase II began from Pardue Lane to Foston Chapel Road. Phase II was completed after Wendell Lynch became mayor.

This story was originally published by the Hoptown Chronicle.

Jennifer P. Brown is the founder and editor of Hoptown Chronicle.