Aldermen adopted a non-binding ordinance Monday that provides a master plan for trails within the city.
The ordinance is based on a study conducted in 2010 by Trailnet, a St. Louis-based not-for-profit organization that promotes bicycle and pedestrian activities and collaborates with public and private entities to enhance trail systems and connect communities.
“This identifies corridors that we need to look into extending or improving,” said City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann.
He said the plan will serve as a “blueprint.”
City Administrator Russell Rost added that the city is not obligated to make any improvements by passing the ordinance.
“It is a good planning guide as we make decisions,” he said. “It is not that circumstances wouldn’t come up and we could change the plan.”
Zimmermann noted that the plan can be used to help obtain grants to build trails and paths.
He said Trailnet also conducted a study for Franklin County and in the future county and city trails might be tied together.
In 2007, the city received a $3,000 donation from the anonymous donor for the 10 percent cost-share match to participate in the program.
In 2010, Trailnet increased the local match for the project to 20 percent. Other costs also increased and the total amount needed for the city to participate was more than $7,400.
The anonymous donor did not fund all of the initial upfront costs but still asked the city to move forward with the plan. The city’s portion to fund the project was about $3,500.
A forum was held last August where it was recommended that 23 miles of sidewalks be added to the city’s existing 15 to 16 miles of sidewalks.
At the forum, the public was able to look at maps outlining where possible trails, sidewalks and other facilities could be added throughout Union.
Connections between parks and schools in Ward 3 also are included in the plan.
In addition to these recommendations, Trailnet representatives said the city should consider programs for walkers and cyclists, such as events like Sunday Parkways, where public streets are closed to vehicles so that activity stations can be placed along the streets for cyclists and walkers.
Other programs include organized bike rides and youth bike safety education programs like bike rodeos.
According to the survey, 47.6 percent rated current conditions for walking in Union as poor while 42.9 percent said they were fair and 9.5 percent rated them excellent.
When asked to rate the conditions for cyclists, 76.2 percent said poor, while 19 percent said fair and 4.8 percent said excellent.
About 85.7 percent of survey respondents said Union should consider nonmotorized transportation, like cycling and walking, as a priority and 71.4 percent said improving walking and bicycling conditions in Union is important to them.
Forty percent of respondents said they walk a few times per month and 35 percent said they walk a few times per week.
Ninety percent said they would walk more if new trails, sidewalks and safer routes were provided.
Sixty-five percent of respondents said they never bike and 30 percent said they bike a few times per month.
When asked if they would bike more often if more trails and safer routes were offered, 70 percent said yes.
Trailnet is a St. Louis-based not-for-profit organization that promotes bicycle and pedestrian activities and collaborates with public and private entities to enhance trail systems and connect communities.
The organization also has determined within the county where trails can be established: Washington, Union, Pacific, New Haven and St. Clair.
Trailnet’s current project is getting the word out that Missouri transportation enhancement funds are available to communities interested in establishing “walkable/bikeable” trails. Since 2006, the organization has planned trails for Crystal City, Festus, Bridgeton, Sunset Hills, Vinita Park and Cottleville.
During the first phase, Trailnet held public meetings in communities that agreed to participate, to get input about what people want in a trail and to assess a community’s needs. That meeting will be held after the first of the year.
During Phase 2, the team identified potential trailways, created GIS maps and cost estimates and to create a 10-year plan that includes grant possibilities and city funding options.
In addition to planning trails and seeking funding sources, Trailnet works to educate the community about the benefits of trails. It partners with schools to develop bike trails to schools, host weekly bike rides to promote the trails and more.