Weather in Washington has warmed up in recent days, but that doesn’t mean crews will be working on the Rotary Riverfront Trail expansion.

Parks and Recreation Director Darren Dunkle said the winter months are tough for trail work. If it’s cold, crews need the ground to be frozen solid so the ground doesn’t get damaged.

When the weather warms up, it usually thaws out the ground just enough that it’s a muddy mess. Dunkle said a warm day here and there doesn’t really dry out the ground enough to make it suitable for work.

Dunkle said the plan all along was to pause the work on the trail for the winter season and resume when the weather is warmer.

The expansion is nearly done, but there’s still some safety improvements that need to be made. Dunkle said there are areas around the trail that need backfilling and guardrails need to be set up.

The parks department originally planned on using guardrails like you’d see along the highway. Dunkle said they recently found out those wouldn’t be up to standards for bike paths.

Guardrails need to be a certain height to meet certain standards. Dunkle said the city is looking for bicycle-specific guardrails.

Once those are installed, Dunkle estimates the new trail will be open sometime in the spring of 2018.

“That’s the main thing holding us up from opening the trail,” he said.

The parks department also is working on getting signs needed for the trail.

Gateway Design and Construction Services, Valley Park, recently finished the asphalt work for the trail in the fall. The contract paid the company $106,400.

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

Despite the trail being in place, Dunkle said it’s not open to the public. He said he’s seen and heard about multiple people using the trail, but said the city hasn’t officially opened it up.

The trail is located to the west of the current trail. The city purchased land in 2015 and decided to use the property for a new trail.

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

The new trail extends west from the end of Elbert Drive across the former Rau and Politte properties. The trail “snakes” around the 42-acre parcel of undeveloped land and around the 12.4 acres of wetlands on the site.

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

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