by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
Over 20 years ago Rockford City planners envisioned a pathway that would provide a beautiful and safe walkable trail (for children and families) along the west side of the Rogue River. In conception it was planned to begin at the City’s southern boundary and end at its northern border. More importantly, it was meant to provide a pedestrian pathway connecting the City neighborhoods on the west side of the river, one to another, and also to the heart of Rockford’s downtown.
Construction has begun in recent weeks on Phase III (the final phase) of the trail that is known today as the Rogue River Nature Trail. It is anticipated that construction will be completed in early May of this year with a dedication ceremony planned during Rockford’s Start of Summer Celebration.
“What began with land acquisition, as the west side of the river developed, now culminates with the construction of this third phase of the overall trail project,” said City Manager Michael Young. “All three phases have been funded by successful Natural Resource Trust Fund (NRTF) Grants totaling over $500,000,” adds a proud Young who personally masterminded the grant applications.
Squire readers will recall that Phase II of the project, completed in 2008, was constructed as a riverside boardwalk with railings and lookouts. This beautiful elevated segment was so well received that in 2009 it was awarded the “Project of the Year Award – Structures” for projects less than $5 million by the American Public Works Association.
In 2010 Rockford was awarded $98,000 by the NRTF with required local matching monies of $27,000. Combined, the $125,000 allowed the City to complete the third and final phase. Constructed as a grade-level boardwalk, the 800 linear ft. pathway will include an overlook platform extending over the river’s surface.
Contractor Dave Bultsma of Bultsma Construction Co. tells us, “Things look good to have construction of Phase III wrapped up by May 10.” Along with sons Justin and Cody, and other company employees, Bultsma is proud to have had his company chosen to play a role in the construction of this beautiful award-winning nature trail.
If you haven’t already taken advantage of this wonderful quality-of-life amenity offered by the City of Rockford, plan to do so after the completion of this final phase of the Rogue River Nature Trail. From its riverside origin near James St. and Longview Dr. on the south, one can traverse northward through some 4.5 acres of woodland and beautiful riverside vistas to its northern terminus at a sidewalk connector to the Riverchase Neighborhood. At this point, the trail connects to sidewalks and pathways to The Highlands neighborhoods and Rockford’s newest neighborhood, Heritage Park.