QUESTION: What is the status of construction on the Flint Hills Nature Trail in Franklin County?

ANSWER: Trail enthusiasts can look forward to a fall opening of the section from Ottawa to Louisiana Terrace, Trent McCown, a parks manager with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, told me last week.

“We are moving along quite well for Phase 1-B,” he said, adding that the department is looking at a September completion date for that section.

McCown said the next phase, Phase 1-C, will include improvements to Colorado Road south of Pomona to K-68 north of Quenemo, as well as Seventh Street in Ottawa to Nevada Terrace.

The Flint Hills Nature Trail extends 117 miles from Osawatomie to Herington and passes through five counties: Miami, Franklin, Osage, Lyon and Morris. Within Franklin County, the trail passes through Rantoul, Ottawa and Pomona.

You may recall a previous Herald story about the trail and an Ottawa bridge selected as a “signature bridge” with special artistic features. The bridge can be viewed from the Second Street Dam overlook directly to the south.

Funds for the signature work, which could include a swan-like design, would come from private donations and grants, McCown said previously.

McCown told me the department plans to wait until that section of the trail is opened before increasing its search for private donors and grant money.

“I think once it’s opened and people see what an attraction it is already, it will really increase the options to make it an even better destination location,” he said.

Before the signature portion is done, the bridge will receive some basic work as part of Phase 1-B, including a new deck surface, railings and an observation location on the bridge, McCown said previously.

Until construction is finished, McCown urged trail-goers to stay safe by staying off those areas.

Jodie Garcia is the Herald’s reader engagement editor. Email her at jgarcia@ottawaherald.com