The Walnut Creek Linear Trail is one of the highlights of Mansfield’s award-winning parks system, stretching for miles across the city and spanning five parks, three neighborhoods and two schools. Starting soon, that path will extend all the way into Historic Downtown, connecting pedestrians and bike riders to the excitement of the downtown business district.
“Mansfield’s Historic Downtown is really becoming the center of a lot of exciting new development for our city, and we’re thrilled to bring the park visitors to where the action is,” said Matt Young, director of parks and recreation. “The Pond Branch Trail, which will open this winter, gives downtown visitors a great natural element to balance the energy of the downtown business district. This trail extension takes it another step further and actually connects the entire park system to the area, extending the opportunity for visitor engagement even further.”
Currently, the trail endpoints are at James McKnight Park East, off U.S. 287 next to Fieldhouse USA, and Town Park, at the corner of Pleasant Ridge Drive and North Main Street. The 12-foot wide lighted concrete trails offer a safe and beautiful route for both pedestrian and bike traffic, with picnic tables, bird watching stations and scenic overlooks along the way.
The most heavily used section connects Kathrine Rose Memorial Park and Town Park, with a steady stream of visitors moving between the two popular parks to maximize both their entertainment and their exercise.
The next phase takes the entertainment value to a whole new level, bringing that pedestrian traffic to the Historic Downtown business district, where guests can grab a bite to eat, shop in the boutiques or check out a concert at one of the seven different music venues. The 10-foot wide trails will stretch along both sides of North Main Street from Oak Street to Pleasant Ridge Drive.
The portion of the trail that crosses the bridge will be incorporated into the street, with both lanes of traffic remaining intact but narrowed to accommodate the 14-foot wide trail. Concrete barriers will divide the trail from the street traffic and keep pedestrians and cyclists safe from motorists.
Once over the bridge, the trails will enter Town Park on the east. On the west side of the street, trails continue as sidewalks until Pleasant Ridge Drive, where walking paths end and cyclists transition to the existing street. The project includes trail and roadway lighting for safety at night.
Construction on the $2.2 million project is expected to begin this winter, with a completion estimated in late summer 2018. It is partially funded by the Federal Transportation Alternatives Program administered through the Department of Transportation. Work is expected to have minimal impact to downtown businesses, as no roads will be closed completely and most driveways will remain intact and untouched.
Young said the North Main extension of the Walnut Creek Linear Trail is just one of many exciting park projects in the works for the upcoming year, with more major connections to be announced very soon. Referred to by many as the “Spine Trail,” city leaders are planning for the trail to eventually run throughout the city, connecting it from end to end.
“The City of Mansfield has made it a priority over the years to incorporate the natural beauty of our city into each phase of new growth and development,” Young said. “This project is another great example of that promise.”