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UnGap the Map — A more Walkable Springfield

Gas getting too expensive? Looking to dump the pump for a while? Why not take a walk on one of Springfield’s expansive trails?

I sat down to speak with Mary Kromrey, the executive Director for our local trails program, Ozarks Greenways. “Our mission is to build a trail system that connects and enhances our community. And our vision is to see communities connected by trails. We’re looking to fill gaps in the planned regional trail system. Specifically in Springfield, we have segments of trail that don’t connect to other segments due to a variety of reasons,” said Kromrey.

UnGap the Map is an initiative Greenways is currently pursuing. If approved, the completed project will weave a system of paved trails throughout the city, allowing pedestrian options to get around town, or to enjoy the outdoors. “We’re looking at connecting five gaps. In totality, maybe like three miles. Those connections are going to allow for 28 Miles of connected trails,” said Kromrey.

The Greenways aren’t just a fancy sidewalk, they incorporate nature around them. Take Jordan Valley’s trail for instance, “There is currently a gap within the Jordan Creek Greenway trail. It continues through Jordan Valley Park and then ends abruptly at Jefferson. You’re looking at an environment that is largely already built. But what’s super exciting is that the Jordan Creek Greenway trail is included in the Renew Jordan Creek project. The Renew Jordan Creek project at its heart is a stormwater project. And so in addition to daylighting Jordan Creek, they’re also going to be substantially changing the reservoir it’s buried in and removing it. They will be doing extensive earth work and modifications to that side, and they will also be putting in the trail along the creek. That’ll close another gap and help the trail continue westward.”

As a bike rider, the thought of going from Commercial to Battlefield is more than a little exhausting, in no small part due to more traditional traffic. “Springfield is very car centric, but we are attempting to build a robust trail system. We’re building for today, but we’re actually trying to go for a future run best transportation network that can serve all of our residents. Going back to walking and bicycling more for a lot of reasons and sometimes it’s a choice. And then sometimes it’s a necessity because a car is just cost prohibitive.”

UnGap the Map would enable an extra option to get around town without a car. Instead of hoofing it down a searing-hot sidewalk, the connected Greenways would allow for foot traffic more akin to a walk in the park, to anywhere in Springfield.

Love the thought of a green, walkable city? Want to lend your support? Ozarks Greenways is always happy to take on volunteers. “We absolutely appreciate volunteers that can be helping with trail care days, or serving on a committee or on our board of directors.” The City of Springfield’s residents are going to have an opportunity either later this year, or at the beginning of next year, to consider directing public funding to the key initiatives within our comprehensive plan with a ballot initiative. Probably unbeknownst to a lot of folks, trails don’t have a designated funding stream and a designated general account in any of the public entities budgets for building and rebuilding and with that maintenance. This vote will be a major funding opportunity to finally UnGap the Map.”

Ozark Greenway Trails
The expanding trail system features a diversity of trails including rails-to-trails, paved trails, gravel trails, a water trail, and natural surface trails.

• Chadwick Flyer Trail
• Dirt 66: Fellows Lake Trails
• Fassnight Creek Greenway
• Fellows Lake Nature Trail
• Frisco Highline Trail
• Fulbright Spring Greenway
• Galloway Creek Greenway
• James River Greenway & Trail
of Honor
• James River Water Trail
• Jordan Creek Greenway
• Lone Pine Trails
• Sac River Mountain Bike Trails
• Shuyler Creek Greenway
• South Creek Greenway
• Springfield-Greene County
African American Heritage Trail
• Trail of Tears Greenway
• Ward Branch Greenway
• Wilson’s Creek Greenway

For more information, visit ozarkgreenways.org.

By Mallory O. Vorel,
UniteNews Staff Writer

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