Thanks to a grant, the Highway 52 bicycle trail west of Yankton will get a much needed makeover.
The trail that runs between Yankton and the lake area on the south side of Highway 52 has become cracked and pitted, and persistent high water levels in the adjacent ditch haven’t done it any favors.
Avid road biker State Rep. Ryan Cwach is familiar with the bike trails in Yankton County and was thinking of presenting a bill that dealt with keeping up the bike trails when he discovered there was already money allocated for that.
“I was talking with the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks (GF&P) Department and they mentioned that there is already this program that they administer, the Recreational Trails Program, where the federal government will pay 80 percent of a recreational trail project,” Cwach said. “That’s not limited to bike trails. It extends to horse trails and snowmobile trails.”
Knowing the poor condition of the Highway 52 bike trail, Cwach passed the information along to County Commission Chairman Dan Klimisch.
“The stretch of the bike trail between the end of the city of Yankton and the start of the GF&P trail is really rough, and, arguably, dangerous in spots,” Cwach said. “It’s the stretch between the bottom of Chalkstone Hill and Deer Boulevard that is the really bad part. There are giant holes that, if you were not familiar with the trail and you weren’t paying attention, you could easily hit and hurt yourself. There’re big bumps and lots of potholes, and it’s broken and buckled in places.”
Cwach added that the condition of the trail was bad enough to be unwelcoming for lake visitors thinking of biking into Yankton.
“I want to thank the county for taking the initiative and moving forward with the project,”Cwach said. “I just kind of stumbled on to the right information and forwarded it on to the right people, and they really took it forward.”
Klimisch found out about the program from Cwach at the last legislative session in Pierre.
“He happened to hear about a program through the state where we could get funding for recreational trails,” Klimisch said. “I did some research on it and found that this might be an option for Yankton County.”
Klimisch passed along the information to Yankton County’s highway supervisor, Mike Sedlacek, to follow up on.
“He worked with Eric Ambroson, the community development specialist from District III, and put together the grant (application),” Klimisch said. “It was approved by the governor for up to $129,618 for our project.”
The grant is only good for two years.
According to Sedlacek, the overall estimated project cost is $155,160. That would leave $25,542 for the county to fund.
“Since it’s small, not a full-size road, we are going to try to work with the South Dakota Department of Transportation when they do their project,” Klimisch said. “We are going to try to work with them to bundle our projects together to further reduce the cost of this program as much as we can.”
There have already been some private citizens who approached the county to discuss donating to the project to offset the county’s portion of the cost, Klimisch said.
“I think when private citizens are willing to donate — one guy’s going to donate $1,000 — that really tells you that there’s a need for it, so I thought that was really great,” he said. “It really supports the community by allowing people to ride their bikes into town and have a meal. It’s a quality-of-life project and I just think it’s wonderful.”
With repairs needed to key county roads and bridges, Klimisch allowed that there might be some people not in favor of this bike trail project.
“But, do we replace it now with a grant or do we replace it two years from now 100 percent on ourselves?” Klimisch asked. “It just makes sense to utilize these grants and I feel it’s great that we are having citizens chip in — and that may increase.”
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