2021 Fall Fundraiser

Page 1

Linn County Trails

Trail Connections

A newsletter published by the Linn County Trails Association

December 2021


Building Bridges

by Phillip Platz, LCTA President

We have been calling it the “golden age of trails development.” Two decades ago, the Linn County Trails Association contributed

dollars and sweat equity to convert portions of the former Milwaukee Road railway into a three-segment, 3.2-mile dirt path Grant Wood

INSIDE… Feature Story Grant Wood Trail bridge over Indian Creek

Trail. Today, the developed trail  —  and funded plans  —   project a continuous, paved path nearly four times that length to be completed within the next few years. While much work remains, these renewed efforts cast excitement to revisit early

plans for the trail’s link to the Mississippi River. If you’ve been following our recently-redesigned website (linncountytrails.org) or social media pages, you’ll know the City of Marion held a ribbon cutting in July for a Bridges, pg. 6 ▶

Calendar Year End

As 2021 draws to a close, we encourage you to keep Linn County Trails Association in mind as you take advantage of charitable deductions. LCTA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. We thank you for your gifts of any amount.

1, 6–7

Capital Campaign


Trail Construction Updates 4–5 Giving Alternatives 8




CAPITAL CAMPAIGN For several years, we’ve conducted an annual Fall Fundraiser — a direct-mail campaign asking for additional contributions. We’ve been putting these gifts to great use. Last year we proudly announced we had given our organization’s millionth dollar to trails in Linn County. About a quarter of that, or $280,000, has gone to support trails efforts in the past three years:

Linn County Trails Association (LCTA) is blessed to have many members who have supported the organization for years with annual contributions. During a typical year, membership contributions will normally cover our low operating costs, plus add a few thousand dollars to our Trails Development Fund. the Alliant LightLine™ bridge (2019–20) • $5,000 to the Corridor MPO for helmets and trail safety education (2019) • $25,000 to Friends of Linn County Conservation Board for the trail through Morgan Creek Park (2019) • $900 to the City of Cedar Rapids to distribute bike lights to at-need riders (2018)

• $750 to Linn County for paving the Cedar Valley Nature Trail (2020)

• $100,000 to Linn County for the design of Hwy. 100 Trail Phase A (2018)

• $25,000 to LAMBA for a single track trail extension near the Sac & Fox trail (2020)

• $75,000 to the City of Cedar Rapids for the Lindale (Grant Wood) Trail connection to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail (2018)

• $50,000 to Connect CR/Cedar Lake and

Grant Wood Trail, Linn County | $100,000 fundraising goal

Last fall we introduced a Capital Campaign to bolster our Trails Development Fund. At the time, we set our goal at collecting $200,000 to put toward future trail projects. So far, we have reached just over 35% of that goal.

This year, the LCTA Board of Directors voted to expand and extend our Capital Campaign fundraiser to $250,000, and earmark money received for three projects. We have reached out to our partner jurisdictions to learn how grants made possible through donations from


our members could help accelerate trails projects in Linn County in the immediate future. The three projects on these pages are the result of those conversations. From securing the right-of-way for the Grant Wood Trail when the railroad was abandoned, to making more than $300,000 in continued investments in the corridor, LCTA has a long

history of supporting the Grant Wood Trail. By investing $100,000 in the next phase of trail development, LCTA’s support will help to fill the trail’s first “missing link.” Money raised will support Linn County’s efforts to build an off-street trail connecting between Oxley Road and Creekside Road and to extend the trail’s hard surface from Waldo’s Rock Park to Paralta Road.

4th Street Trail, Cedar Rapids | $100,000 fundraising goal

The 4th Street Trail will extend the Cedar Valley Nature Trail from where it stops at 7th Avenue in downtown Cedar Rapids to the future Alliant Energy LightLine™ bridge over the Cedar River. The next phase of the project in the planning stage starts at 9th Avenue SE near the railroad tracks and continues south.

By investing $100,000 in this project, LCTA’s support could accelerate this project by a manner of several years. The trail will connect a key missing link in the downtown trails system, and provide improved navigation for the American Discover Trail and Great American Rail-Trail through downtown Cedar Rapids.

Continued ▶

Lucore Road Bridge over Indian Creek, Marion | $50,000 fundraising goal

4 ▶ Campaign,

continued from pg. 3

Marion’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee has identified the Lucore Road Bridge over Indian Creek project as a key safety upgrade for trail users in the growing community’s northeast. In its current state, Lucore Road trail users must leave the trail and enter a busy roadway to cross over Indian Creek. When Lucore Road was first built, funds were never set aside for a pedestrian trail bridge. As Marion continues to grow, this trail’s increased use has made this project an urgent need. By investing $50,000 in this project, LCTA’s support can help improve

safety for trail users in this area and improve connections to the existing and future trail network in Marion. LCTA has leveraged your gifts to accelerate trails projects, provide important match funds to secure grants, and work with local jurisdictions to prioritize the development of a system of connected trails in Linn County. Please consider a gift to our Capital Campaign in any amount. Your generosity can help us continue to blaze new trails for years to come!

Trail Construction Updates Marion | 1. & 2. CeMar Trail — A project to pave the limestone trail through Thomas & Legion Parks wrapped in spring. In July, a ribbon cutting was held for a new bridge over Indian Creek. Construction of a 240-foot bridge over Marion Boulevard began in August. Steel girders have been placed; the trail surface will be poured and decorative features installed in spring. Grant Wood Trail — This trail shares the Indian Creek and Marion Boulevard bridges with the CeMar Trail. The Central Corridor project along 6th Avenue opened in August and includes a combination of sidewalks (for pedestrians), side paths (for pedestrians and bicycles) and on-street bike lanes to complete the connection through Uptown as the trail continues west. 10th Ave

Sidepaths — Construction of wide sidepaths on both sides of 10th Avenue (US151 Business Rt) began in August and will be completed in spring. Cedar Rapids | 3. CeMar Trail — Cedar Rapids’ final CeMar Trail segment opened this fall. The trail now runs from Cedar Lake, around Mount Mercy University’s athletic complex, under 1st Avenue, and ends at Mount Calvary Cemetery. A future Marion segment will pick up from here. Edgewood Trail — A new segment of this trail near Blairs Ferry Road wrapped this year. Next year work will begin to connect Glass Road to the bridge over the Cedar River and to widen the pedestrian path on the bridge. A portion of the trail along Wiley Blvd. will begin construction next year. 4. Interurban Trail — A short

segment of this trail opened in Cedar Rapids, along Cottage Grove Avenue SE between 1st Avenue and Forest Drive. Cherokee Trail — A bicycle boulevard through residential neighborhoods on the NW side will coincide with a street resurfacing project next summer. Next summer construction will pick the trail back up in Jacolyn Park and connect all the way through Cherokee Park, to a point just west of Edgewood Road. Lindale (Grant Wood) Trail — Next year work will begin to connect from the western end of the current Lindale Trail, beneath Blairs Ferry Road NE, and west to Council Street. Linn County | 5. Morgan Creek Trail — A mile-long trail through Morgan Creek Park is now complete. The trail connects on the south end to the








Cedar Rapids Cherokee Trail, runs through a day use area, along improved wetlands, over Morgan Creek on a new 300-foot bridge, through the arboretum and ending at Worcester Road. Design work is underway to continue this trail to the north, across Ellis Road, along Hwy. 100 and running through an underpass at Covington Road. Construction for this segment may begin as soon as 2023. Next fall, construction work is expected to begin on the trail’s eastern end, running along Xavier High School, through the Rock

Island Preserve, over the Iowa Northern Railroad, and ending at a point just east of the Cedar River’s edge. A future Biechler Bridge over the Cedar River would connect these two trail segments. 6. Cedar Valley Nature Trail — Six miles of newly paved trail now connect from Center Point to the north, through Urbana. This project included a realignment of the I-380 underpass, with lighting and signals to alert trail users of oncoming travelers. A complete rebuild and pavement overlay of an approximately half-mile trail

segment between Cedar Rapids and Ely was also completed. Grant Wood Trail — A paving project is anticipated in 2022 for the segment of trail between Waldo’s Rock Park, just east of Marion, to Oxley Road. Land acquisition is underway to connect a “missing link” segment between Oxley and Creekside Roads. Design work has also begun to build up and prepare a current dirt surface trail for future paving, between Creekside and Paralta Roads.

Linn County Trails ASSOCIATION

6 ▶ Bridges,

continued from pg. 1

new CeMar/Grant Wood Trail bridge over Indian Creek. Once a staple in Marion, the Milwaukee Railroad served the community for decades. The bridge over Indian Creek was first built in 1915 and has sat idle for years since the last passenger train served Marion in 1971. The reconstructed bridge, using its original girders atop new piers, takes on new life with fresh pavement for pedestrians and bicyclists. Ornamental embellishments pay tribute to Marion’s railroad history. Work continues to progress on the Grant Wood Trail bridge over Marion Boulevard. This bridge will be adorned with artistic features designed by local artist Cara Briggs Farmer, creating a visual “gateway” entrance into Marion. Funds from the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) provided much of the needed financing for these bridge projects. While the MPO recently wrapped up its five-year, 80– 20 percent split appropriating money for federally funded

Morgan Creek Park bridge; ctsy. Greg Januska

Grant Wood Trail bridge over Marion Boulevard

trails and highway projects respectively (traditionally the funding allocation had been reversed), much of the allocated dollars remain unspent  —  meaning several miles of new trails are practically shovel ready. The development we’ve seen in the past few years is only starting to hit its stride. In 2016, Linn County voters approved a $40-million bond initiative to improve water quality and parks, and to construct trails. In the time since, local governments and advocacy groups have shown their dedication to those same priorities. It is apparent the increased focus on trail building across organizations adds up to an exciting time for trails progress in Linn County. Lest we forget, major projects in the past few years have included the extension of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail hard surfacing, north to just past Urbana, and south to the Linn County line; the acquisition of land to eventually form the Interurban Trail to Mount Vernon; a trail connection

from Morgan Creek Park (including a gorgeous bridge) to a growing Cherokee Trail on Cedar Rapids’ west side; and the aforementioned expansion of the Grant Wood Trail. The CeMar Trail will share the Grant Wood Trail bridges over Indian Creek and Marion Boulevard, ultimately connecting downtown Cedar Rapids with Uptown Marion. An underpass at 1st Avenue in Cedar Rapids’ Kenwood Park neighborhood was completed this year. In short order, a stretch of trail incorporating several additional small bridges will be placed  —  in coordination with a sewer project  —  closing the final gap between Mount Calvary Cemetery and the Hwy. 100 bridge over Indian Creek near Menards. Bridges are perhaps the most expensive infrastructure investment in a trail system. But they can also become iconic contributors of community pride, creating a sense of place, and marking community significance.


Two more iconic bridges will come online soon as part of the ConnectCR project. One bringing life to a historical bridge over the Cedar River, south of the Czech Village (the Alliant LightLine™ bridge, shown in a rendering at right). Another ConnectCR bridge will create a special boardwalk interaction for Cedar Lake visitors. Still yet two more iconic bridges, with important trail connections, are in the early planning stages. A replacement for the 8th Avenue Bridge over the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids will include wide sidewalks with connections to trails on both sides of the river. And the Biechler Bridge will connect trail users across the Cedar River to the north, next to Hwy. 100. Many communities are lucky if they can take on one such project per decade. Our


Alliant Energy LightLine™ courtesy Connect CR

community will install at least six significant bridges in about as much time. Linn County Trails Association is proud to have contributed to many of these projects, and to the trails that connect them. And with the help of our supporters, we will put your dollars hard at work to ensure our trail system continues to experience this golden era!

Donate immediately online at linncountytrails.org/campaign or, mail this form with your contribution to:

Linn County Trails Association P.O. Box 2681 Cedar Rapids, IA 52406


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Giving Alternatives We know you give generously to many during this season, and we appreciate you keeping the Linn County Trails Association in mind. For some, a financial gift may not be a possibility at this time. That’s okay! We appreciate the many ways our supporters offer their time, talent and treasure to help Make Trails Happen in Linn County! A few ideas for how to give and alternatives to financial gifts are identified below.

Please check your support renewal due date.



volunteer opportunities attend a trail event

join our board or sit in on a meeting follow our updates

collect litter along the trails

share our news with friends

Contact contributor@linncountytrails.org to get plugged into more opportunities!

Scan our PayPal or Venmo QR Codes at left to give quickly, instantaneously! Give while you shop using Amazon Smile! Simply visit smile.amazon.com while shopping Amazon and select Linn County Trails Association as your benefactor. A percentage of your purchase will automatically be credited to support trails development in Linn County. Like us on Facebook to keep up with news from the trail. Share our updates with friends to help us build a Trail Supporter community. Use the Donate Button on our page to give directly through Facebook with no processing fees, or create a birthday or anniversary fundraiser to encourage giving among your personal network. Linn County Trails Association P.O. Box 2681 Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-2681

Make a gift online today at linncountytrails.org/support

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