Route 66 News

Businessman wants bicycle trail near Route 66 from Baxter Springs to Joplin

Steve Bolek, a business owner in Baxter Springs, Kan., is organizing a fundraiser to build a bicycle and pedestrian trail near Route 66 from Baxter Springs to Galena, Kan. — maybe even to Joplin, Mo., reported the Joplin Globe.

Bolek said Friday he has been working on finding grants and support for the trail for about a year, and is planning a major fundraiser event for Baxter Springs in October that could draw up to 5,000 people, he estimates. […]

The trail would run north from Baxter Springs along an abandoned BNSF Railway Co. bed to an area near the Rainbow Bridge, curve east through Riverton, crossing Spring River and on to Galena.

“There’s a possibility we could even hook into the Frisco Trail in Joplin,” Bolek said.

Bolek also hopes to extend the trail on the same railway bed to Commerce, Okla. — making the entire path about 40 miles.

The fundraiser is the Route 66 Cruise’n and Rockabilly Weekend on Oct. 11-12, which includes a car show, swap meet and live music.

An engineering company is supplying its initial services to the project at no cost. Bolek says he needs a letter of support from the Cherokee County Commission to land state grants for the Kansas part of the trail.

We’ll see whether he gets it. According to the newspaper, the commission is hearing from several bicycle-trail proposals at its next meeting. But the rails-to-trails idea makes sense in one big way — it greatly reduces the chance of automobile-bicycle accidents.

(Image of the Rainbow Bridge near Baxter Springs by J. Stephen Conn, via Flickr)

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