Published November 20, 2014
By David Tuma, The Belton Journal
Belton celebrated the opening Phase II of the Hike and Bike Trail last Friday with the unveiling of a 10-foot wide trail that is lit 24 hours a day. The ceremony was held at start of the 396 foot bridge that spans Nolan Creek.
Construction of Phase II began in 2013 and cost $1.8 million, with City of Belton contributing 20 percent matching funds of the total project. Most of the trail has been funded through grants.
Mike Huber, Public Works Director, spoke about the project, along with Frank Minosky with the Belton Chamber of Commerce, Mack Parker, Belton Mayor Marion Grayson and City Manager Sam Listi.
“Standing on the bridge structures for the project, especially the 1900 circa Pony Truss Bridge, I feel thankful for our heritage here in Belton and in Bell County along with a deep appreciation of the Nolan Creek corridor,” Parker said. “My hope is that generations to come can develop an enormous sense of pride and tranquility while enjoying our most recent revelation of this unmatched beauty known as Nolan Creek,.”
The bridge connects various parts of Belton together, while the trail connects the Harris Community Center to the UMHB campus.
“UMHB is a unique jewel in the middle of our community, adding to the quality of life with its beautiful campus and by providing jobs as well as a unique student population that makes our community stronger through their service and activities,” Belton Independent School District Board of Trustees President Randy Pittenger said. “I love Belton for many reasons, and primarily for the way our community is engaged and supportive of our schools and our children. We have that unique blend of an actively engaged community and innovative and high achieving schools that provide opportunities for our kids to excel. Seeing how our many churches and nonprofit agencies work together to help meet the needs of our families and community is inspiring.”
Those in attendance were impressed with the visual view of Nolan Creek from the bridge. There was a gate set up at the entrance of the bridge and wooden slats holding the two sides together. The council each pulled out one of the slats that had a ceremonial plate on the back.
Phase III is out for bid with work planned to start in 2015. When completed, it will be part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue extension. The new addition will connect with Loop 121, making the trail over two miles in length.
“Belton is extraordinary, and sometimes it’s easy for us to take that for granted,” Pittenger said. “When visitors come from other cities, states or even countries, they help us realize how extraordinary Belton is. They recognize that what we have here is unique and special.
“The high quality of our schools, parks, and recreation areas all contribute to the wonderful quality of life that make more and more people choose to move their families here.”