Darryl Black said every time he sees the entrance to the new pedestrian bridges on the north side of Cheadle Lake the city of Lebanon has done more to barricade their entrances with caution tape and “Sidewalk Closed” signs.
The three new bridges, which were installed starting in late 2018 and through 2019, are complete and theoretically ready for use, but the city of Lebanon is keeping them closed until a pedestrian crossing is installed on River Drive, so pedestrians using the bridges have a safe way to cross the road.
Black, a board member with Building Lebanon Trails, an organization that worked with the city to get the bridges and many trails in town built, said the ever-increasing barricade is evidence of just how excited the public is about new trails in Lebanon.
Black and other Building Lebanon Trails volunteers recently took a group of about a dozen members of the public on a guided walking tour of the pedestrian paths around Cheadle Lake. The event included a guided walk from Cheadle Lake Park to Riverview Park.
Rod Sell, who founded Building Lebanon Trails in 2005, said the organization holds at least one public event a month at a rotating selection of locations and this was the Cheadle Lake area’s turn. The participants receive a history lesson on the trail network and a look at the new bridges.
Sell said he can’t really estimate how much the installation of the bridges cost, since the city paid for the installation of two of the bridges and the third was donated by the Rick Franklin Corp and installed by Forslund Crane Services for free, with some additional financial support by Dr. Thad and Joanne Nelson.
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Sell said the new bridges are part of the group’s plan to build a 50-mile network of trails throughout Lebanon that can be used both for recreation and for pedestrian and bike transit. He said the group helps the city build the network by writing grants, raising matching funds for grants and doing trail maintenance.
“We’re excited about each new trail because each new trail leads to another,” he said.
He added that the pedestrian crossing near the bridges is supposed to be built this spring, so the bridges should be open in time for the group’s annual fundraising event, the Cheadle Lake Run, which is scheduled for May 2.
He said the group has an email list of 500 volunteers and it regularly draws 25 to 40 people to its work parties.
Sell said so many people are involved because of all the benefits trails bring, noting that they help people be healthy and active, they raise property values around them and they give people a safe way to commute.
“It just does so much good for the community,” he said.
Jan Diamantine, a board member of Building Lebanon trails who guided the hike Saturday, said the group puts on its hikes to encourage people to be active.
“(We want) to get people off the couch and out in the elements in nature,” she said.
Anthony Rimel covers education and crime in Benton County and weekend events across the Mid-Valley. He can be reached at email@example.com or 541-812-6091.