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Chadwick Flyer Trail estimate surpasses $30M

Funding complete for Highway 65 overpass, officials say

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A recently completed cost study for part of a greenway trail project between Springfield and Ozark pushed the total price tag over $30 million.

Local officials who have been at work on the Chadwick Flyer Trail since 2019 are undeterred by the updated estimate that increased costs by $10 million, pointing to progress in recent years. The regional trail for cyclists, joggers and walkers will span roughly 12 miles of the original Chadwick Flyer rail line that covered almost 17 miles from National Avenue near downtown Springfield to Ozark’s Finley River Trail. Over a quarter of the trail has been completed with another 3.2 miles in some form of development, said Ozark Greenways Inc. Executive Director Mary Kromrey. Nearly 6 miles of the trail – mostly between Kissick Avenue and Sunshine Street in Springfield – remain unfunded.

“Costs have gone up,” Kromrey said, noting the trail’s original $20 million estimated cost was calculated over five years ago. “We all know that prices are going up and not down. This project is not exempt from inflation. I wish it was.

“Keep in mind that building includes the design, the engineering, the environmental, the construction. From Kissick to Sunshine, that cost is looking to be about $20 million for that portion of it.”

The Kissick to Sunshine section of the trail was the focus of the Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc. study, which was presented at a Feb. 20 open house at the Missouri Job Center. Kromrey said nearly 60 people signed in at the event, adding CMT is processing comments received at the event to add to its report, which cost $127,000. It was funded by Ozark Greenways through American Rescue Plan Act funds received by the city of Springfield.

“Their target date to get the final report to us is the end of this month,” she said.

The Chadwick Flyer Trail is a collaborative effort between Ozark Greenways, the city of Ozark and the Ozarks Transportation Organization.

Kromrey said she wasn’t surprised by the cost estimate for the Kissick to Sunshine portion, which is not in active use by rail line owner BNSF Railway Co. The city of Springfield has been in negotiations with BNSF to acquire the railway corridor that follows north to Sunshine Street in order to proceed with the trail.

“The negotiations are still in process. Progress is being made and that’s due in part to an increase in communication among the partners,” she said, adding Ozark Greenways has been awarded $3 million from city ARPA funds to go toward trail planning and development in the Kissick to Sunshine area. “We are optimistic that Burlington Northern and the city of Springfield and City Utilities will be able to complete the negotiations and finalize the transfer of that right of way by the end of this year.”

Making progress
While negotiations on that segment continue, officials say the multimillion-dollar Highway 65 overpass – a major connector for the trail – is fully funded. The city of Ozark received $1.2 million in ARPA funds last year with an additional $1.5 million provided by OTO for the project, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Additionally, the city of Ozark and Christian County each is supplying local matches of $375,000. That left over $300,000 to fund for the overpass budget, set at $3.75 million. Kromrey said Ozark Greenways was approved for the remaining $321,000 by the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund.

“We’ve sent our right-of-way plans to (the Missouri Department of Transportation) for review. So, it’s heavily in design,” said Jeremy Parsons, Ozark’s Public Works director. “We are hoping with the latest update to be under construction by the end of the year.”

The estimated construction completion for the overpass is May 2025, according to officials. The steel span bridge is currently expected to be constructed near the 39-mile marker.

“We’re attempting to stay within that budget,” Parsons said. “We’ll then dive more into design with the actual prefabricated spans of the bridge. We’re exploring different types of spans, different type of construction.”

Further north, a roughly 1.8-mile segment of the trail from South Kissick Avenue to the Greene County line was completed in November after nearly five months, officials say. Radmacher Brothers Excavating Co. Inc. was general contractor for the $1.3 million project, which was funded via federal funds administered by OTO and locally matched by Ozark Greenways’ ARPA funds, according to past reporting.

While officials were originally hoping to begin construction on roughly 4,300 linear feet of the trail early this year on property owned by Tracker Marine near North 21st Street, Parsons said work should begin within the next couple of months.

“We have solidified that alignment after a lot of talk about trying to balance the needs of the Tracker facility with the aesthetics of the trail. It was a lot,” he said. “Once we start construction, we’ll have it completed within about seven months. I’m thinking early spring at the latest of next year.”

OTO has contributed about $2 million combined for the two segments out of allocated COVID relief funds, according to past reporting.

Funding search
With hopes the city will eventually have possession of the Kissick to Sunshine portion of the railway corridor, Kromrey said the trail partner organizations will be on the hunt for additional private and public funding sources.

“Ozark Greenways has a long track record of support,” she said.

Kromrey said public sources could include Transportation Alternatives Program funds, which are distributed by MoDOT, the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity discretionary grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Recreational Trails Program grants.

The federal Department of Transportation announced late last year it had $1.5 billion in grant funding available in 2024 through the RAISE program, which helps communities across the country with projects that have significant local or regional impact, according to a news release.

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