City of York releases statement on broad public support for trail system

YORK— On Monday, March 11, York City Administrator Sue Crawford released a statement regarding the process of extending the pedestrian/trails project in York.

“In July 2022, the City of York was awarded $15.6 for Project Access York, a major trail and pedestrian safety project. Project Access York will fund almost nine miles of trail expansion throughout the city, a pedestrian overpass over Highway 81 near the interstate and safety improvements for school crossings,” Crawford said.

“Extending our trail systems has been on our city wish list for many years. I can’t wait to see the great things we can do for York with this opportunity” said Mayor Barry Redfern.

The project builds infrastructure that has been identified by community members as key priorities over the years. Although the City of York led the effort to pull the grant together, the project idea and the grant proposal benefited from multiple collaborative efforts in the community. The trail ideas were developed by York residents in the 2017 comprehensive plan process and the need for safer crossing options for Highway 81 was also identified in the 2006 comprehensive plan.

In 2022, a community coalition of many organizations, businesses and public sector representatives in York worked together as a Walkability Coalition to conduct walk audits and hold conversations about how to improve pedestrian access throughout the city. Walk audits and conversations with York Public School students reinforced the need for more safety measures at the school crossings.

Dr. Crawford, noted “this massive grant effort would not have been successful without the collaboration of many in the community and the clear stories about how the grant responds well to community needs.”

“The grant proposal submitted in the spring of 2022 included letters of support from many community organizations. York Public Schools noted in their letter that conversations on the need to improve safety for students getting to school had been happening for at least 22 years.

“Four Corners Health Department noted that Project Access York responded well to community conversations that Four Corners had helped to sponsor through their Local Food Local Places project, which involved public engagement sessions with diverse stakeholders who identified safer access to the area by the interstate and better trails throughout the city as key priorities,” Dr. Crawford continued.

“The letter of support from York County Development Corporation reinforced the level of community engagement that led to the ideas in the Project Access York grant proposal. These public input sessions that stressed the need for more trails and safer access to the interstate area included the 2017 Comprehensive Plan, Local Food Local Places meetings, two York County Housing studies and a Walkability study funded by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

“The York Chamber of Commerce letter discussed their involvement with groups and studies over the years centered on walkability and removing barriers for visitors and residents.

“In the fall of 2022, the City of York invited Senator Deb Fisher to visit to talk about the opportunities that Project Access York would create and to thank her for her vote for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that helps to fund the project.”

Throughout the late summer and fall of 2022 Mayor Redfern and City Administrator Sue Crawford visited many community organizations to talk about the new Project Access York project.

“The responses that I heard in all of those conversations were very positive,” said Crawford.

Likewise, Mayor Redfern noted that he heard a lot of enthusiasm in the community about the project.

“Last year, in March 2023, the engineers spent a day in York meeting with city officials, including law enforcement, public works, and parks staff. This meeting also included school leaders, county staff, state transportation staff and York University students. In the afternoon there was an open house for everyone in the community to come and see a proposed alignment and make comments. The public comments for this open house were overall very positive. The main concern raised was the original location of the pedestrian bridge. One clear example of the engineers responding to the comments was that they changed the bridge location due to comments that afternoon. Notices for this meeting were in the news and social media and through organizational newsletters,” Dr. Crawford explained.

“Based on the feedback from the March 2023 meeting, the engineers have been working on a revised trail design. The engineers expect to be ready to present the new design and gather input sometime this spring. Announcements for this open house for viewing the maps and providing public comment will be in the York news outlets, the city Facebook page and the city website,” Dr. Crawford said.





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