DES MOINES – Three Eastern Iowa counties are asking the state for $8.2 million to help complete a network of trails local officials called critical to recreation, tourism, economic development and workforce development.
Representatives of Black Hawk, Linn and Johnson counties made their pitch to the House-Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday. They told lawmakers their counties have or are investing $5.3 million in the trails.
The plan is to connect the Cedar Valley Nature Trail from Cedar Falls to Cedar Rapids to the Hoover Nature Trail south to Solon and West Branch on to Muscatine and Burlington. The includes connections to trails in Bremer and Buchanan counties to the north as well as to Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty, Johnson County Supervisor Terrence Neuzil told lawmakers.
Black Hawk County Supervisor John Miller called the Cedar Valley Nature Trail the “backbone” of the trails system. Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston added that there are east-west trail networks in each county that connect to it.
Completing the trail system to link to the American Discovery Trail would make the Eastern Iowa trails more attractive to cyclists, boosting tourism in the area, she said.
“This would make the area truly a destination,” said Linn County Conservation Board Deputy Director Dennis Goematt. “It’s a regional trail of statewide significance.”
In addition to increasing the quality of life for the people he represents, Johnson County Supervisor John Etheredge said the trail network benefits the entire state.
“So it should be promoted and supported at the state level,” he said.
Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, called the project a “massive quality of life issue as well as workforce development.”
He challenged the subcommittee to “think about trail development in ways we haven’t thought about it in the past.”
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FYI – Requests for state funding:
Black Hawk County – Hard surface 9 miles of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail from McFarlane Bridge to the Buchanan-Benton County line, $3 million; various repairs and improvements, $760,000; total of $3.77 million
Linn County – Construct trail from Ely to Linn-Johnson County line, $1 million; hard surface 4 miles from Schultz Rd. through Center Point, $1.4 million; hard surface Center Point to Urbana,$1.75 million; 3 bridge replacements and various improvements, $4.6 million; total of $8.755 million
Johnson County — “Missing link” from Ely not Solon, including 6 bridges, and other improvements, $3.9 million; Iowa City to West Branch, including 6 bridges and various improvements, $5.9 million; total of $9.7 million.