KANSAS (KSNT) – Over $24 million has been awarded to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks for the improvement and expansion of the Flint Hills Trail.

The announcement came on Thursday from the U.S. Department of Transportation. In total, $24,821,705 has been allocated to the KDWP for a project which will construct 40 miles of the Flint Hills Trail in Kansas. This will nearly complete the 118-mile linear park “rail-trail.” Additional improvements that will be made during this project include drainage improvements, pipes, culverts, bridges, base improvements, limestone surfacing, fences, gates, bollards, safety improvements and signage.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the project will offer an alternative to driving as well as provide outdoor recreational opportunities in a rural area that is “fragmented with very few public outdoor recreational areas.” Opportunities will also be created by the project in areas of nature tourism and boosting recreation.

Community input has been a part of the planning efforts for this project through the use of four separate workshops. The trail will also be using inclusive interpretative signage and storytelling strategies that portray history and respect the Kaw Nation.

Currently, the Flint Hills Trail extends from Herington to Osawatomie and is the seventh-longest rail-trail in the U.S., according to the KDWP. It follows the general route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

A map of the Flint Hills Trail State Park updated on Sept. 9, 2019. (Photo Courtesy/Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks)

In addition to the Flint Hills Trail project, a $22,112,620 award was also announced for the Old Smoky Hill River Bridge Replacement in Salina. The project aims to replace seven bridges over the Old Smoky River and build 3.4 miles of multi-use accessible trails. To see the full details of both projects and others that were announced today, click here.