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A jogger runs eastward on the hike-and-bike trail near Suck's Lake in Grand Island on a beautiful spring-like Tuesday with temperatures reaching the upper 70s and much lower humidity than last week. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

Grand Island will add a hike and bike trail after the City Council approved an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation to construct it at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Todd McCoy, city Parks and Recreation director, said one of the main goals of the Grand Island Bike/Ped Master Plan is to remove or improve barriers that discourage people from walking or biking. He said the plan identified Highway 281 as the top pedestrian barrier in Grand Island.

Under Phase 1 of the plan, the Stuhr Trail under Highway 281 would be connected to a new privately constructed 10-foot hospital development trail using an existing bridge over a drainage swale.

McCoy said the connection is valuable because it not only provides access across a major pedestrian barrier, but it also is critical component of the connectivity of the network.

He said the timing of the proposed project is good because of the hospital construction underway at the corner of Husker Highway and Highway 281.

A $20,000 construction project will connect the existing city trail east of Highway 281 with the new trail to the west. The city’s food and beverage funds will pay for the project.

McCoy said the swale is an old drainage ditch that was once used for the area before the Wood River Diversion Project was completed.

Council member Mark Stelk said he was glad to see the plan start to become reality.

“This has been a long time coming,” Stelk said. “I have talked to a lot of runners and they are really glad to see that we are doing some action in combining some trails around the city.”

Stelk asked McCoy about the safety of the new addition, especially if there is excess precipitation in the area.

“The DOT will approve the plans,” McCoy said. “Anytime we have an area that could be a hazard or a concern, we do block it off. We have gates on the diversion trail when it floods there. We have something similar to block of the new trail when needed so it is not a safety concern.”

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