Frankfort Grants Manager Rebecca Hall has been working for the city for 15 years. The city has been contemplating work on the current Pinsly Trail for nearly all of that time, she says.
The trail has long been promoted as a way to better connect Kentucky State University to downtown Frankfort.
Now, 15 years later under the name “Thorobred Trail,” that work is set to be finished in the spring.
With “connecting” KSU to downtown a popular political talking point, Hall sees this as a project that can make that goal a reality.
“We’re hoping that students will come down and be more a part of downtown than they already are,” Hall said. “… That it will make it easier for them to get downtown and also safer. We think it’s going to be a great addition for everybody.”
The November start and spring finish dates come from Chase Wright, a civil engineer and project manager at Strand Associates who was hired by the city to oversee the project.
Currently, part of the trail runs along an old railroad track that snakes from Regan Street in downtown up close to the back of Kentucky State's campus.
The Regan Street proposed trailhead would connect with downtown behind the current Faith Victory Church, Commonwealth Credit Union building and the state office building at the corner of High and Mero streets. The other trailhead would back into KSU’s campus.
The current plan for the trail, according to Wright, is to make it 6 feet wide, using asphalt with fencing in places where there are steep elevation changes. No lighting on the trail is planned, and Wright said the city will maintain the trail once it's completed. Operating hours will be from dawn to dusk.
A key challenge for Wright and the city as they receive bids for the project is how to work through a 140-foot elevation change from the train track to KSU.
Wright said that despite the elevation change, the project will not have stairs. Instead, it will remain accessible to those in wheelchairs by using a series of criss-crossing slopes and landings to incline up the hill.
He also said that the trail will attempt to be as low-impact on the surrounding forest as possible. The trees in the area, which is mostly wooded hillside, will be a key factor in characterizing the trail.
“The intent is to make it a nature kind of experience,” Wright said. “Hopefully it’s also a nice place for people downtown and state employees to come take a break.”
Funding for the project comes from a combination of several entities. KSU donated an easement for the project, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet helped secure a federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant, and the city is using some of its own funds as well.
Hall said that TAP has obligated funding for 80% of the project, and that the city should be good to go forward money-wise depending on what numbers come back in the bids.
Bids on the project are due Oct. 6 at 2 p.m.