Lawton bike path final plans presented

Lawton_The dream of bike and jogging trails spanning Lawton is now one step closer. Thursday night the project manager presented the final plans for the trails.

The new paths will use old railways, creek beds, easements and alleys while tying into public transportation routes and touring through city parks. The trail includes water fountains, benches, landscaping, pedestrian crossing signals, and anything else needed to enhance safety and beautify the city.

While it will take 30 years and 19 million dollars to get a network of bike trails built across Lawton, the project manager is telling everyone not to get discouraged by those numbers. "You know, we could get 90 percent of this done with street markings, and we can do that in the next couple of years, and start building some momentum," said Andy Howard. "And the city of Lawton, they're engineering staff has been great with 'What can we get done with exisiting projects?'"

Out of the 100 miles of trails they're building, only 20 percent will be off-road. The other 80 percent will utilize paths lawton already has; helping keep that budget down because they're relying heavily on grant money. "Well we want to connect people to their neighbors, to recreation, to civic facilities, commercial areas," Howard said, "and we can do that through trails and some on-street facilities."

Like the intersection at 6th and Monroe. The plan is to simply paint in bike lanes so cars are forced to share the road. "We've got people out there biking, they're kind of all over the place, and we want to say, 'hey, this is the preferred route, use this one, tell your neighbors about it,'" he said.

The first signs you'll see of the trails being built will be just that -- signs! They'll apply for those transportation grants in 2009, so you'll see construction begin with those road signs and street paint in 2010.

And don't forget the "Tour of the Wichitas" bike event May 3. The ride through Ft. Sill and the Wichita Mountains will start at the Museum of the Great Plains at 8:00 a.m. For $25 at the door, you can choose to ride 40, 50 or 60 miles.