Flint Hills Trail Recognized with an Environmental Excellence Award

November 07, 2022
Sustainability Experiential Design Community & Regional Planning

Part of the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail, the multimodal trail provides safe routes to schools, businesses and parks for people of all abilities.

RDG Planning & Design is proud to announce that the Flint Hills Trail has been recognized with a 2022 Environmental Excellence Award by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Developed via a partnership between RDG, CFS Engineers, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, the Flint Hills Trail is the longest trail in Kansas and the eighth-longest rail trail in America and provides safe routes to schools, businesses and parks for people of all abilities, as well as a safer alternate bike, pedestrian and equestrian corridor off of state highways and county roads. RDG Principal Marty Shukert, FAICP joined representatives from the State of Kansas, Federal Highway Administration, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and others to celebrate the award at a luncheon on Saturday, October 29, 2022.

RDG Principal Marty Shukert, FAICP pictured with U.S. Representative Sharice Davids and Richard Backlund, division administrator for the Federal Highway Administration Kansas Division.

RDG’s design team in association with CFS worked with KDWPT and Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy to create a master plan for the Flint Hills Trail. Following months of discussions, public input meetings and design sessions, the plan was finalized and included the development of wayfinding and signage, and concepts for four signature bridges designed to draw attention, promote local economic development and encourage people to ride the full-length of the trail. The resulting design creates a trail that incorporates and celebrates local cultures, interests and histories while providing accessible multimodal connections to cities, towns, rural communities and natural landscapes. Upon completion of one additional trail, the system will provide a direct linkage of 242 miles of trails through nine counties. The Flint Hills Trail has become a destination trail in the Midwest and an example of leadership for other trail development efforts, resulting in non-profit groups and other entities forming a new trail culture in Kansas.

Development boards from the Flint Hills Trail master plan.

“The Flint Hills Nature has had an incredible and positive impact on local communities, both culturally and economically,” said Shukert. “RDG is honored to be among the agencies recognized for contributions to this important project and we look forward to all the ways the trail will continue to enhance Kansans’ lives.”

Since 1995, the Environmental Excellence Awards have recognized leaders across the country who make outstanding contributions to environmental stewardship and partnerships above and beyond traditional transportation project outcomes. The winning projects and programs exemplify FHWA’s priorities of climate change and sustainability, equity and environmental justice, complete streets, economic strength and safety for all road users. The 2022 awards were coordinated with FHWA’s Offices of Human Environment, Natural Environment, and Project Development and Environmental Review to reflect the notion that “environment” means a connection to both human and environmental systems.

Written by Erin Van Zee, Communications Director