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The popular Jamaica North Trail on the southwestern edge of Lincoln will be expanded as part of a plan to extend it to Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Now, the 6.3-mile trail runs along the eastern edge of Wilderness Park from just south of Saltillo Road to about Fourth and Calvert streets, where it intersects with the Salt Creek Levee Trail.

City officials plan to use an abandoned Union Pacific Railroad corridor to extend  Jamaica North  from that intersection to about Fourth and A streets, said Terry Genrich, natural resources and greenways manager for the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department.

Constructors Inc. in Lincoln recently was awarded the $594,864 contract, and work is expected to begin next spring and finished by summer.

The completed 1.3-mile trail segment will connect to an already completed segment from A to J streets. Then, the city plans to finish the final leg from J Street to the arena. That project could start in about two years.

After it's done, trail users will have two options to head south out of the the Historic Haymarket District: the Jamaica North and the South Creek Levee Trail, which can be accessed near Haymarket Park.

Long-distance cyclists who use either trail will be able to catch the nearly 40-mile Homestead Trail, completed to downtown Beatrice. Eventually, that trail will continue about 20 miles farther to Marysville, Kan.

Ross Greathouse, vice president of the Nebraska Trails Foundation, said a big portion of the Homestead Trail could be completed by spring 2015.

He said Beatrice was working to get enough money to extend the trail about three miles, to just south of Beatrice. The foundation owns about 20 miles of right-of-way from that point to the Nebraska-Kansas border.

Greathouse said the foundation had raised $740,000 for work on its stretch of trail, about 87 percent of the total cost of the project.

"We have $110,000 yet to raise," he said.

The design phase of the project could begin next spring and bids let for the project in the fall, he said.

A Kansas-based group called the Marshall County Connection is developing 13 miles from Marysville, Kan., to the Nebraska border. Greathouse said the group had completed eight miles  and was continuing its work.

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Reach Algis J. Laukaitis at 402-473-7243 or alaukaitis@journalstar.com.

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