Bicyclists, walkers and runners on Lexington's popular 8-mile Legacy Trail will now be greeted by 61 flags designed by local artists.
The new flags, or blazes, are in clusters of three to five flag poles. There are 15 installations, with an additional one planned for the Isaac Murphy trailhead. The poles are 25 or 35 feet tall.
"Infusing art into our parks and trails is a simple and effective strategy to make our public spaces more vibrant and beautiful," said Lisa Adkins, president and CEO of Bluegrass Community Foundation.
Adkins was one of several speakers at a news conference Tuesday at Lexmark announcing completion of the pole installation. The trail snakes around Lexmark.
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The blazes are part of the 2010 Legacy Trail arts master plan. Using a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and other private donations, Bluegrass Community Foundation was able to raise money to pay artists to design the blazes and pay for the materials.
Adkins said the private donations totaled approximately $30,000. The city paid for the poles and the bases.
The blazes are the second part of the master plan. The first — completed years ago — involved artists painting directly on the trail. It took almost five years for the blazes to be erected because of funding.
"This is the first of dozens and dozens of art projects" for the trail, Adkins said Tuesday.
Don Ament was one of 15 artists to design the blazes. His work — a five-pole installation near the Kentucky Horse Park — represents flowing water. The Lexington artist biked to the news conference Tuesday.
"I love the trail," Ament said. "I think it's a world-class trail. I travel a lot for my job and have biked on a lot of trails in a lot of different cities. I think the blazes make it a cut above other cities' trails."
The main section of the Legacy Trail, from Loudon Avenue to the Kentucky Horse Park, opened in September 2010. The trail was part of the city's beautification efforts for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
It has become one of the city's most popular recreational paths. In August, the city started counting the number of Legacy Trail users; it averages 500 to 700 bicyclists a day. But the electronic counters tally only cyclists. It's likely there are just as many runners and walkers, city officials said. The counters are part of a bigger push to measure bicycle use in Lexington.
Keith Lovan, a city engineer who oversees the city's trail system, said construction on a stretch of trail through the Horse Park will begin this year. Construction on a part of the trail that includes a key downtown section to end at the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden at Third Street and Midland Avenue will begin in 2016, Lovan said.
Once completed, the Legacy Trail will be more than 11 miles.
"In addition, there will be 21 interpretive signs that will be installed in the next two months," Lovan said.
The blazes are visible from the road near Lexmark on Newtown Pike, Citation Boulevard and at the North Lexington YMCA on Loudon Avenue.