Livable Joplin becomes more of a reality every day.
We took two big strides forward last week.
The Joplin Trails Coalition announced a grant of $100,067 from the Missouri Recreational Trails Program that will be used to upgrade nearly 3 miles of the Ruby Jack Trail in northern Jasper County.
There also was a ribbon-cutting to mark completion of the 1.15-mile Mohaska Trail, which runs from Mercy Park to 26th and Main streets. Funding for the Mohaska Trail was provided via Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery money given to the city after the tornado.
We've always said that trails have a momentum — the longer they get, the more places they connect, the bigger the draw they become, the bigger the economic impact they have.
The 16-mile Ruby Jack extends from Carthage to the Kansas state line, passing through Carl Junction and Oronogo, and the grant will upgrade a stretch of the trail from just west of County Road 240 to County Road 270, near Missouri Highway 171. That will connect the eastern section of the trail that is already done to a 2-mile section that is done in Carl Junction, making 14 miles that are cleared and surfaced with a fine limestone gravel.
The Ruby Jack grant will be matched with $43,457 locally, and the hope is that the work can be done by next summer.
And once that is done, all that remains to complete the Ruby Jack would be about 2 miles of the trail west of Carl Junction to the state line.
The bigger picture is to connect the Ruby Jack to the popular Frisco Greenway, which runs through part of Joplin, to Webb City.
“If we can do that ... about every city in Jasper County will be connected,” Braden Horst, president of the JTC, told us.
The Mohaska Trail, meanwhile, will connect to the half-mile St. John’s Trail, which is nearly complete, and will connect with the future Tin Cup Trail, which will take hikers, cyclists and runners to the city parks and attractions along Shoal Creek.
Troy Bolander, director of Planning, Community Development and Neighborhood Services for Joplin, said, “The vision is to connect Southwest Missouri through a series of trails so residents can easily commute by foot or bicycle throughout Joplin and to surrounding cities such as Carl Junction, Webb City and even Carthage. Mohaska and St. John’s trails are a great addition to this system."
Mayor Gary Shaw called the latest Joplin trails "a great asset for Joplin.”
A hearty thanks to the Joplin Trails Coalition, the city of Joplin and all the volunteers and others who worked to make Joplin a more livable city.