At Monday’s Cherokee County Commission meeting, Baxter Springs business owner Steve Bolek will seek support for a bicycle-pedestrian trail from near the stretch of Route 66 from Baxter Springs to Galena, Kan., and perhaps on to Joplin.
Bolek said Friday he has been working on finding grants and support for the trail for about a year, and is planning a major fundraiser event for Baxter Springs in October that could draw up to 5,000 people, he estimates.
The Route 66 Cruise’n and Rockabilly Weekend is slated for Oct. 11-12 and will include a 1950s-style custom and vintage car show, swap meet, food and 10 live bands. All proceeds will go toward the trail, Bolek said.
The trail would run north from Baxter Springs along an abandoned BNSF Railway Co. bed to an area near the Rainbow Bridge, curve east through Riverton, crossing Spring River and on to Galena.
“There’s a possibility we could even hook into the Frisco Trail in Joplin,” Bolek said.
He said he has discussed the project with officials from Quapaw, Okla., and is hoping to also be able to tie into a stretch of the same railway bed that runs through Quapaw to Commerce, Okla., and on to Miami, Okla.
“I think that would give us about 40 miles of bike trail,” he said.
A future phase could include a trail west from Rainbow Bridge near Beasley Road and north to Columbus, Kan., Bolek added.
Because he is applying for several state grants, Bolek must get a letter of support from the County Commission. He already has a commitment from an engineering company in Independence to provide preliminary engineering services at no cost.
“My whole focus is to do this for families and kids. It would really add so much to Southeast Kansas,” he said.
Bolek’s initiative is among several proposed bicycle-pedestrian trails in the area, including a potential trail in Galena, that will be discussed by a committee on Tuesday.
By Andra Bryan Stefanoni – Joplin Globe