Bill Klingner Trail Extension
Firm: Klingner & Associates, Inc.
Owner: Quincy Park District
Description: Innovative Applications — Innovative approaches to planning, fundraising, and safety made this multiple phase completion of the Bill Klingner Trail possible. Originally imagined by William “Bill” H. Klingner in 1946, the trail was envisioned as a pedestrian link between the Mississippi River and 54th St that utilized the inaccessible greenspace lining Cedar Creek in the town’s core. Nearly 50 years after the concept was presented, Quincy Park District (QPD) and the City of Quincy began working with Klingner to realize Bill’s dream. In 1994, prior to design, Klingner helped to obtain fee simple title and conservation easements, primarily in the floodplain. Over $300,000 worth of land was donated for the three-mile stretch. This early work prevented development from stunting the trail and accelerated the project once design began.
At the same time, Klingner proposed a supplemental funding source to expedite trail construction. The Quincy Park Foundation had been established to hold property and monetary donations, but with the aim of supporting general park development. After Bill’s passing in 1999, Bill’s son and firm president, Mike Klingner, suggested the creation of Friends of the Trails — a nonprofit entity raising money to match grant dollars and assisting with trail development. The group, which has collected over $1.2M from hundreds of donors, features a diverse board that works with community members and leaders to now fundraise for future trail segments. Their largest fundraiser, a community bike ride, has steadily grown each year to over 200 participants in 2021. Early establishment of financial support ensured these new segments could be funded simultaneously.
To foster community support, safety needed to be proactively addressed. A multi-pronged approach was developed to answer resident concerns. Each trail portion crosses under intersecting roadways, eliminating at grade street crossings and the potential for deadly vehicular accidents. Connections to the minor arterials (5th St and 18th St) and one major arterial (24th St / IL 96) were added, giving emergency vehicles an expedient response route to the trail below. Additionally, 30’ clear zones were incorporated around the walkway to eliminate hiding spots and deter crime. Each of these precautions enhance user safety — but are meaningless if pedestrians have no way to identify their location in the event of an emergency. To address this issue, the trail incorporates street signs noting where each road in the street grid would intersect. This gives pedestrians an easy way to communicate their location with first responders, quickening response times.
Future Value to the Engineering Profession — The Bill Klingner Trail is Adams County’s most popular recreational asset and a beloved memorial to engineer Bill Klingner. Its construction and reception is a testament to engineering excellence — and these most recent extensions amplify that message. During a 2017 QPD community-wide survey, 55% of respondents rated walking and biking trails as a top-three priority over the next two years, with 46% of respondents having used the trail since 2015 and 69% willing to pay increased taxes for new park projects. Public interest in the trail has skyrocketed since the new 18th - 24th and 5th - Parker Heights segments have been constructed. According to QPD’s new Ecocounter installed in May 2021, the now 2.44-mile trail has seen an average of 448 users per day with an impressive 69,457 trailgoers thru Oct. 1, 2021. That is 72% more users than the population of Quincy. On Sept. 27 of this year, the trail also saw its first day surpassing 1,000 active community members (1,090). In fact, the new segments have been so popular that QPD retained Klingner in March 2021 to design an additional 55-stall parking lot for the 18th - 24th portion to alleviate trailhead congestion. This overwhelmingly positive reception in a community that was originally leery of the trail underscores the transformative power of conscientious engineering.
The extended trail also helps fulfill a core initiative in the City’s strategic plan: Build a Greenway System. Identified as a priority by a broad base of community stakeholders, this initiative seeks to promote active lifestyles and community health by linking to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Of the 1,000 acres of parks in the City’s park system, the Bill Klingner Trail now connects approximately 221 acres. Future spurs are also planned to nearby neighborhoods and businesses. Social, Economic, and Sustainable Design — Adams County is the eighth most obese county in Illinois. In 2017, 38% of the adult population had a BMI higher than 30 kg/m2.1 Improving access to places for physical activity is one of the CDC’s eight core strategies to decrease obesity within a community. While a park service area is typically considered within .5 miles of a park, a 2007 study found that those living within 1 mile of a park were four times more likely to visit the park at least once a week and had an average of 38% more exercise sessions per week than those living further away.2 Expanding the trail in both directions created new opportunities to improve community health. These new connection points serve two highly populated areas within one mile of the greenway: the underserved neighborhood to the northwest as well as multiple subdivisions, a large residential area, and an industrial park to the east. Families across the socioeconomic spectrum now have easier access to the trail and its amenities: a safe connection to the riverfront; outdoor exercise equipment; bike repair equipment; playgrounds; multiple parks; natural features, such as the waterfall and natural spring; and an historic Native American burial site with interpretive signage. Accessibility was important for a truly community friendly facility and to maximize trail use. Designed in accordance with the ADA and Illinois Accessibility Code, Klingner purposely routed the trail so that longitudinal slopes were restricted to a maximum of 5% and cross slopes to a maximum of 1.5%. This facilitates ease of use for wheelchair users and those of varying abilities. Railings were incorporated at critical grade drops that might affect accessibility. A switchback ramp was designed to overcome a large grade differential east of 24th St and allow users to walk their bicycles from the trail’s endpoint to the street. The new parking lot on the 18th - 24th segment also provides closer access, information, and bicycle parking.
Complexity — Balancing greenspace preservation, flooding, and accessibility needs proved a unique challenge. Winding through the hilly floodplain necessitated significant modifications to meet slope requirements. Since grading work had the potential to destroy the greenspace, the trail was aligned along paths that required the least amount of grading. Strict clearing limits were set around this alignment to protect the area’s natural features. Grading was essential for the pedestrian bridges to surpass the flow of the creek. This affected two locations on 5th - Parker Heights and two locations on 18th - 24th. Fill was only used to raise the trail at the bridge approaches, allowing most of the path to stay at its natural elevation. Flooding was another concern, as most of the trail property lies within the Cedar Creek floodplain. Given the frequency and speed with which the area submerges, the trail needed to withstand inundation. In floodprone areas along both segments, concrete was used instead of asphalt to avoid pavement deterioration where water overtops the trail. Storm sewers (some with flap gates) and open ditches convey runoff and prevent water from backing into key areas. The 24th St underpass incorporates retaining walls and a strategically-placed separation wall to limit sediment deposition on the trail during flood events, decrease site disturbance, and fit within the available Right-of-Way. During construction, the floodplain soils were found to not meet compaction requirements in certain areas. Klingner incorporated a geogrid and oversized aggregate to stabilize the subgrade and provide a suitable trail base.
Exceeding Owner Needs — Design for the Bill Klingner Trail was an experience that exceeded QPD’s expectations. Before design began, Klingner’s team scouted interesting natural features and paths that would minimize grading work, decrease flooding impacts, and safeguard large trees. Once a concept was sketched, the center line was staked along the greenway. QPD then walked the route to see how the trail would interact with the environment before asking questions, giving input, and documenting access, safety, and maintenance needs. A public meeting was held before final design. The project was partially funded through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP), which provided $792,000 for the 18th - 24th segment. Klingner assisted QPD with the grant requirements by providing construction engineering and IDOT coordination on required submittals and documentation.
Quincy Park District