• B.A. Morelli
  • Wed October 15 2014
  • Posted Oct 15, 2014

The Iowa Department of Transportation has approved $5.5 million in grants for recreational trail projects across Iowa, including a mountain bike trail at Squaw Creek Park in Linn County.

The Red Cedar Loop and Connector at Squaw Creek will create a single-track loop approximately 8,500 feet long and tied to existing park infrastructure. It will nearly double the amount of mountain bike trails in the park, said Michelle Barker, president of theLinn Area Mountain Bike Association. The five miles of trails at Beverly Park is the other main course for mountain bikers in Linn County, she said.

"It is exciting because we will have professional trail builders come and build the trail," Barker said. "I'm very optimistic about the use that we will see a lot of people on the trails."

The Iowa DOT grant will cover $55,000 of a $75,000 project. Barker said there isn't a firm timetable for when the project will be completed.

The Iowa Transportation Commission approved 12 recreational trail projects when it met in Sioux Center earlier this week for its monthly meeting. A grant to support design work for the so called “missing link” trail, which is part of the Hoover Nature Trail connecting northern Johnson County and Linn County, was also approved.

Yvonne Diller, state and federal recreational trails program manager for the Iowa DOT, said this is the first time a mountain bike trail has received funding through the grant process.

The Iowa DOT received $6 million for recreational trails this year, which is much more than usual. Diller said state funding for trail grants had been $2 million to $3 million a year in recent years, and no appropriation in 2010.

Typically, the DOT has been able to approve eight or nine projects a year, but this year it was exciting to be able to provide grants to more applicants around the state, she said.

“We were really surprised we got this amount,” Diller said. “Everyone around the state wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. It was a really competitive round.”

Trails applications have increased from 29 in 2011, 40 in 2012, 39 in 2013 and 57 for the 2014 round, Diller said. She said it’s a sign that there’s a lot of interest in recreational trails around Iowa.

Diller said the DOT doesn’t know what the trails appropriation will be in 2015, and the DOT has not decided what it will request.

“This might have just been a special year,” she said.

As part of the $6 million appropriation, the state earmarked $1 million for existing trail bridges with documented historical or architectural significance. The DOT approved $500,000 to rehabilitate the Fifth Street Bridge in Des Moines, but that is the only application received, Diller said.

She said the DOT will reopen applications for the remaining $500,000 through Jan. 2.




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