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The new trail project will be completed between Combs Flat Road and Juniper Street

JASON CHANEY - Unfinished canal piping delayed part of the Rails to Trails project.

After a two-year wait, the city of Prineville is finally getting started on its Rails to Trail project.

The 10-foot wide, paved trail featuring 2-foot wide gravel shoulders will be built on the City of Prineville Railway easement between Northeast Juniper Street and Combs Flat Road.

The city originally landed a Rails to Trails grant through Oregon Department of Transportation in 2018, but the project was delayed and altered.

"The original footprint was from Northeast Seventh Street to Combs Flat Road," said City Street Supervisor Scott Smith, "but as we worked through the all of the ODOT and federal regulations, it became apparent that until the rye grass canal is piped, it was going to be an issue utilizing money in that section."

So, the city pulled the Seventh Street through Juniper Street portion of the project and will construct the trails system between Juniper Street and Combs Flat Road. Where the trail crosses Third Street, the city will add enhanced pedestrian crossings, similar to those found on Lynn Boulevard near Crook County High School, and a center refuge island.

Smith explained that the refuge island is meant for people to more easily cross the 56-foot wide section of Third Street.

"The preferred method is to provide somewhat of an elevated concrete platform specifically for elderly or handicapped people," Smith said.

The trail will then continue down the railway easement to Combs Flat Road where it will again cross the busy road with the aid of enhanced pedestrian crossings and connect with the paved bike and pedestrian path that follows the Ochoco Lumber property.

An ODOT engineering consultant initially estimated the project would cost about $464,000 to complete, but Knife River was the low bidder for the work at $300,000. In addition to completing the path, Smith is asking ODOT to negotiate with Knife River for the installation of electrical conduit along the path to allow lighting and security cameras.

Work is slated to start this week with a completion timeframe for most of the work in mid-December, weather permitting.

"We feel pretty confident that everything will be completed with the exception of paving, depending on the weather," Smith said.

Although the work slated for this fall will only cover part of the originally planned Rails to Trails footprint, the city is hoping to add the rest of the proposed trail in the near future. Smith noted that the city and Ochoco Irrigation District partnered on a grant application to the Bureau of Reclamation that enabled them to pipe the rye grass canal from Juniper to Seventh streets. That work is mostly complete, with only backfilling remaining.

In addition, the city recently piped the portion from Seventh Street to Court Street and another grant will fund canal piping from Court Street to 10th Street. Once that project is complete, the canal will be piped from Main Street to Combs Flat Road and beyond.

"It allows us to continue extending the Rails to Trails project," Smith said.

The extra timeframe for that extension is not yet known, although city officials hope to complete it sometime during the next calendar year.

"There is not any identified funding to complete the work at this time," Smith said, but went on to point out that there is "not a lot of cost to prep the base."

"Then, we will work our way through the winter and see how revenues and transportation SDCs (system development charges) come in," he added. "We feel pretty confident that we will be able to find the funding by next spring."

Smith pointed out that if they can work on the rest of the Rails to Trails project by then, the work would closely coincide with a planned realignment of the 10th and North Main streets intersection.

"There would be no better time than during the paving of that (project) to do the paving to extend the Rails to Trails at a very reasonable cost," he said.


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