This seasons’ flooding has forced some commuters to find creative detours, add miles to their routes and spend more time behind the wheel – or handlebars.
Flood-related transportation inconveniences for Eastern Iowans have extended beyond road closures to inundated trails and popular walking paths.
“We have customers that use the paths to commute to work, and they have had to significantly change their routes and add more time to make sure they get to their jobs on time,” said Michael Chamberlain, owner of The Broken Spoke bike shop at 602 S. Dubuque St.
Chamberlain’s daily ride to work from home hasn’t been impacted so far, but he said his weekly group ride on Thursday nights has had to make big changes.
“We usually take it through City Park and down through Coralville on the Clear Creek Trail,” he said. “We had to reroute because City Park is under water.”
Biking and walking paths in Iowa City that are closed due to recent flooding include the Iowa River Corridor Trail, along the Iowa River under the Highway 6 Bridge, the trail along the Benton Street Bridge, from Highway 6 to Napoleon Park, and the trail that passes under I-80 at Waterworks Prairie Park, according to city officials.
Coralville trail closures include the Clear Creek Trail at First Avenue, as it crosses under the bridge, at Highway 6, as it crosses under the bridge, and from Highway 6 south to the Hawkeye Court Apartments. The city also has closed the Iowa River Landing Wetland Walkways, and flooding in April still has a 200-yard section the Auburn Hills Trail along Muddy Creek closed due to erosion.
In Linn County, most trails are back open – including the Cedar Lake Loop and the Cedar River Trail, which were closed for about five days until reopening earlier this week. The Sac and Fox Trail, a rock trail, remains closed at Fir Avenue SE until officials can assess the damage and make sure it’s safe, said Daniel Gibbins, parks superintendent for the City of Cedar Rapids.
“The asphalt trails are a big part of our transportation system,” Gibbins said. “So it’s very important to open them as quickly as possible because people use them to commute.”
The Prairie Park Fishery Trail in Cedar Rapids now is open, even though there still are spots of water, and Gibbins said none of the asphalt trails suffered damage in this flood event. That’s good, he said, because the trails are essential to a lot of residents.
“We know that they rely on those trails for transportation,” he said.
In Iowa City, parks and recreation director Mike Moran said officials hope commuters who use alternate transportation will keep doing so despite the closures, which could remain in effect for a while.
“I hope people aren’t giving up their bike riding habits or walking habits,” he said. “But they do have to think ahead about what is open and what isn’t.”
Moran said the Iowa River Trail is “very popular for commuting,” but he said has a lot of alternatives.
“They just have to think about where to go,” he said.
AJ Turner, sales manager at World of Bikes in Iowa City, said cyclists are resilient, and he doesn’t expect anyone to give up their peddling practices because of a little – or even a lot – of water.
“People in the cycling community are pretty easy-going,” he said. “They are just allotting more time to find new routes.”