Bike trail plans tied to Lake Jacksonville bridge

By Ryne Turke on August 30, 2016 at 7:15am

The Jacksonville Parks and Lake Committee spent a good portion of last night’s meeting tossing around opinions for a bridge at the city’s lake.

This isn’t the first time committee members have brought up the bridge on West Lake Road.

During the last committee meeting, a long discussion resulted in a 3-2 vote in favor of taking plans to the council for further consideration. Due to safety concerns, the plans were held back.

The current city budget has $100,000 set aside for the bridge construction estimate, which was conducted by Benton & Associates.

Alderman Steve Warmowski says one concern was having enough room for a fire truck to operate properly in the case of an emergency.

“You don’t need to take a fire truck down to the bridge if there is a bike accident or someone gets injured walking. The fire department has a policy where a pickup truck or similar vehicle can be used to go down there to turn around. Combines go down there to get in their fields. It is usable. You can turn around. The access issue is the same as any other emergency response at the lake,” says Warmowski.

Footings from the dated bridge are still in place. Warmowski hopes to use this stretch of land for people to bike or walk.

“So you can walk the whole way now. If you have a city bike or mountain bike you can handle the road as it is now.  As you get to the furthest south stretches of the road it is a grassy area. Right now, the majority of the people who go to the lake are those who fish or camp. There is only a small segment of the city who take advantage of probably the best recreational resource the community has. If we opened up this recreational bridge then you would have families that could go out there and have a mile segment of road with low or no traffic,” says Warmowski.

Parks and Lakes Director Kelly Hall isn’t opposed to the bridge, but feels the approaches on both sides need “considerable work.”

“I think we should look at paths that lead to that area, so the bridge can be put in according to the timeline that we establish. We don’t want it to just be a hangout and a party place. You would have a new bridge, right in the middle of the woods that leads to nowhere.”

In Hall’s opinion, a bike trail from the concession stand to Point 9 would serve the public better.

The next Parks and Lakes meeting was set for October 3rd at 6 p.m.