The formal groundbreaking for the western expansion of the Rotary Riverfront Trail is set for Thursday.

While work has already begun, the city is organizing a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, Sept. 28, at 1:15 p.m. The event will take place in the parking lot near Elbert Drive at the riverfront.

Parks and Recreation Director Darren Dunkle said work is moving forward on the trail expansion. He said crews are ready to lay rock and fabric on the site. Monday’s rains might push back that work until later this week or early next week, he said.

Once that is done, the paving of the trail can start. Last week the Washington City Council approved a contract with Gateway Design and Construction Services to asphalt the trail. The contract will pay the Valley Park-based company $106,400.

The contract calls for the work to be finished by Tuesday, Oct. 31. The goal is to have the asphalt in place before the winter months. Dunkle said the city wants to have the asphalt laid sooner rather than later so the rock and fabric aren’t washed away by Missouri River floodwaters.

While work is being done on the trail, the area is closed to the public.

The asphalt would get that portion of the project done, but would not complete the full expansion project, Dunkle said. The city still has to do other things like fencing, guardrails, a culvert crossing, signs and other work. But, for the most part, having the asphalt would allow visitors to the site.

The contract calls for 4 inches of MoDOT-quality asphalt. The trail will be 12 feet wide and about 1 mile long.

The trail will be constructed to the west of the current trail. The city purchased land in 2015 that paved the way for the trail.

The purchase gave the city all the land along the Missouri River, from South Point west to St. John’s Creek.

The proposed 12-foot-wide trail would extend west from the end of Elbert Drive across the former Rau and Politte properties. Based on plans presented last year, the trail would “snake” around the 42-acre parcel of undeveloped land and around the 12.4 acres of wetlands on the site.

The trail would run along the northern boundary of the site near the Missouri River and then wind through a forest heading west where it would cross an existing culvert bridge.

The trail then would loop around an existing agricultural field near the confluence of St. John’s Creek, the Missouri River and the City Park Creek.