Another extension of the Little Blue Trace got a little closer Monday with Jackson County’s approval of an agreement with Kansas City that would eventually run the trail 12.2 miles south to the Longview Lake area.

Another extension of the Little Blue Trace got a little closer Monday with Jackson County’s approval of an agreement with Kansas City that would eventually run the trail 12.2 miles south to the Longview Lake area.

“The popularity of that trail has grown,” County Executive Mike Sanders told county legislators.

The county and the city of Independence opened a 3.5-mile extension of the hiking-and-biking trail in June, and now the county plans to seek bids in October for another mile of trail.

The trail now runs for 15 miles along the Little Blue River from Blue Mills Road south under U.S. 24, past the main Independence power plant, through the commercial area of southeast Independence, under Interstate 470 and southwest to Lee’s Summit Road. As the county added to it this year, it also fixed up shelters at trailheads and added benches. Sanders called it a “gem of our parks system.”

He said it’s important to remember that for young professionals deciding whether or where to relocate, green transit and amenities such as trails are among the top three considerations.

“As we know, trails are not just about recreation,” Sanders said.

Michelle Newman, director of Jackson County Parks & Recreation, pointed out that the trail is considered a key part of MetroGreen, a 1,144 “greenway” system across seven counties on both sides of the state line.

The next 12.2 miles of the Little Blue Trace would keep going upriver from the current south end of the trail at Lee’s Summit Road. It would cross U.S. 350 at Knobtown and come out at Longview Lake.

That’s on county land in Kansas City, and that city will have to bear the costs, though the county is helping with such things as letting the bids and construction inspection.

The bid to be let in October would bring a 30-spot parking lot and a trailhead at Lee’s Summit Road and another mile of trail. That’s one of eight phases to get the trail all the way to Longview, and it could take years for Kansas City to find the money for all that. Sanders stressed that the upcoming work will be at no cost to the county.

“This is not something that happens overnight,” said Legislator Dan Tarwater, D-Kansas City.

Sanders also noted plans to extend the cross-state Katy Trail into Kansas City. Imagine, he said, someday being able to get on a trail near your home and riding all the way to St. Louis. Sanders also has said he’d like to run the Little Blue Trace another 10 miles to the north, coming out at the Fort Osage Education Center overlooking the Missouri River.