Bridge over Indian Creek with a sign proclaiming

August Trail Update

Trail partners – Linn County Conservation Department, City of Cedar Rapids, City of Marion and Linn Area Mountain Bike Association have shared their latest trail construction project updates.

Read more in this news report below!

View Report! »

LCTA Shares 2021 Annual Report

The 2021 Annual Report of the Linn County Trails Association recognizes financial contributors to the organization and work performed in 2021.

Key report highlights:

  • 2021 Financials & Donor Honor Roll
  • June 2022 Trail Construction updates
  • Capital Campaign update
  • and more!

Review the report here.


2021 Fall Newsletter

The 2021 Fall Trail Connections newsletter, published by the Linn County Trails Association, will be distributed this week. View a digital copy today!


Fall 2021 Trail Construction Updates

Marion

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 (US-151 Business Rt) began in August and will be completed in spring.

Cedar Rapids

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.

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

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.

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.


Building Bridges

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 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 website or social media pages, you’ll know the City of Marion held a ribbon cutting in July for a 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 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.

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 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!

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 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!


LCTA Announces Trail Projects for Capital Campaign, Increases Fundraising Goal

At the November 2021 meeting of the Linn County Trails Association Board of Directors, members voted to establish three projects as the basis for the organization's continued Capital Campaign fundraiser and increase the fundraising goal to $250,000.

Money raised would support projects requesting funds in Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Linn County. Fundraising goals include $100,000 for the Grant Wood Trail in Linn County, $100,000 for the 4th Street Trail in Cedar Rapids, and $50,000 for the Lucore Road Bridge over Indian Creek in Marion. Funds received for the Grant Wood Trail project would encompass construction of an off-street trail connecting Oxley Road to Creekside Road, and paving from Waldo's Rock Park to Paralta Road. Funds received for the 4th Street Trail project would extend the Cedar Valley Nature Trail from 9th Avenue SE to the future Alliant Energy LightLine bridge over the Cedar River. Funds received for the Lucore Road Bridge over Indian Creek project would support an initiative to build a new pedestrian bridge in Marion.

At the time of the vote, over 35% of the previous $200,000 fundraising goal had been secured. "We have reached out to partner jurisdictions to learn how grants made possible through donations from our members could help accelerate trails projects in Linn County in the near future," said LCTA President Phillip Platz. "These projects rose to the top as the result of those conversations."

Those interested in supporting future trails in Linn County are encouraged to visit the LCTA Capital Campaign website to learn more and donate. Happy Trails!


Grant Wood Trail - Construction - Marion Central Corridor

Ribbon Cutting | Grant Wood Trail through Uptown Marion & Marion’s Central Corridor Project

The City of Marion, Chamber ambassadors, community leaders and the Linn County Trails Association will celebrate the completion of a significant piece of the Grant Wood Trail Project — the opening of 6th Avenue in Marion as part of the Central Corridor Project on Friday, August 6.

The ceremony will take place at 9:30 a.m. along the newly constructed portion of Sixth Avenue. Parking will be available in the lots of First Federal Credit Union, Starbucks and Your Pie Pizza in the 2600 and 2700 blocks of Seventh Avenue. The public is invited to attend. The street will open to the public immediately following the event.

The 6th Avenue Corridor was the former railroad bed for the Milwaukee Road, which served the community for decades. Plans for the corridor’s conversion have been imagined since the final passenger train rolled through Marion in 1971. The project is an important connection along the Grant Wood Trail, which connects Cedar Rapids, Marion, and greater Linn County.

Marion Central Corridor Project - Map

When the railroad right-of-way was abandoned east of Marion, trails groups across Iowa envisioned a future connection to the Mississippi River. The Linn County Trails Association acted fast to preserve the land for future use as a trail. Marion’s Central Corridor Project is the next exciting leg of trail to open along the abandoned railroad line.

Additional segments are open in Jones and Clinton counties. Construction of a new bridge over Marion Boulevard is underway and will complete the trail’s connection from the former Lindale Trail (now the Grant Wood Trail) into Uptown Marion and onward to greater Linn County.

“What started as a 3.2-mile grass path and a dream has nearly doubled to 6.2 miles of continuous trail,” said Phillip Platz, president of the Linn County Trails Association. “With near-term plans, that length will double again in the next couple of years, connecting Cedar Rapids near the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, through Marion, and on toward Springville. This is an exciting time for trails in Linn County!”

Marion’s Central Corridor Plan was adopted in 2009 to revitalize and redevelop one of the most prominent and identifiable areas within the community. It repurposed the former railroad right-of-way into a street and introduced a long-term traffic management plan for Marion’s core, balancing traffic between Sixth and Seventh avenues and creating a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere in Uptown Marion. In turn, properties once reserved for warehouses and industrial uses are better positioned for a mix of commercial and residential uses.

“This project is a decade in the making,” said Marion Mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly. “It shows exactly what can happen when we reach higher and are intentional in our approach. We’re already seeing what is possible when we create an environment that fosters private redevelopment in the commercial core of our city.”

All are welcome! Please join us at this exciting event. RSVP on Facebook.


Bridge over Indian Creek with a sign proclaiming

CeMar/Grant Wood Trail Bridge over Indian Creek Ribbon Cutting

The City of Marion, Linn County Trails Association, Chamber ambassadors and community leaders will celebrate the completion of a significant piece of the CeMar Trail Project — the reconstructed former railroad bridge spanning Indian Creek.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. on the former railroad bridge. Attendees are encouraged to park at Thomas Park, 343 Marion Blvd., since the only access to the bridge is via the trail on foot or by bicycle.

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 been a sleeping giant since the final passenger train rolled through 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. This portion of the trail will officially reopen after Monday’s ceremony, reinstating the Boyson Trail which has been closed for about a year.

The project is also an important connection along the Grant Wood Trail, which connects Cedar Rapids, Marion, and greater Linn County. Additional spurs are completed in Jones and Clinton counties, along a trail corridor intended to one day connect Cedar Rapids to the Mississippi River.

Work on Marion's Central Corridor Project is advancing quickly, and will be the next segment of the Grant Wood Trail to open. Construction on a new bridge over Marion Boulevard will begin in the coming weeks and complete the trail's connection from the former Lindale Trail (now the Grant Wood Trail) into Uptown Marion and onward to greater Linn County.

All are welcome! Please join us at this exciting event. RSVP on Facebook.


LCTA Shares 2020 Annual Report

The 2020 Annual Report of the Linn County Trails Association recognizes financial contributors to the organization and work performed in 2020.

Key report highlights:

  • 2020 Financials & Donor Honor Roll
  • News on the Lincoln-Interurban Trail to Mount Vernon/Lisbon
  • April 2021 Trail Construction updates
  • Findings of 2020 LCTA Membership Survey
  • Trail counter report (trail use was WAY up in 2020!)
  • Capital Campaign update
  • and more!

Review the report here.


2020–21 Capital Campaign Introduction Letter

While this year has brought many new unknowns, one thing we know for certain is the benefit of trails. Nationwide, trail use is up around 60 percent. We saw that locally also, when we conducted our first-ever LCTA member survey. Approximately 50 percent of respondents noted their trail use has increased in the past year.

The trails have provided a welcome relief from today’s challenges. Trails connect us to natural resources — fields, streams, wetlands and woodlands. They also provide a fun, safe way to spend time with friends outside.

We learned a lot by surveying all types of trail users from all over Linn County this summer. We noted a major preference for building paved trails that connect multiple jurisdictions. We also learned that we have a solid group of users interested in natural, scenic wooded hiking or singletrack trails.

Perhaps this year more than ever we have been so fortunate to benefit from years of work to expand our growing trails system. It is our goal to continue to “Make Trails Happen.” We can’t do this without your financial assistance.

LCTA has a long history of being ready to jumpstart projects when opportunities arise. When railroads were abandoning in the 70s, 80s and90s, early Linn County trails supporters acted on the vision of building the Cedar Valley Nature Trail — now identified as an important connection along two coast-to-coast, nationwide trails.

Years ago, Linn County Trails Association donated the right-of-way for a portion of the Hoover Nature Trail south of Ely to Johnson County. Today, that connection is paved and incredibly active. Our humble trails group also jumped on the opportunity to purchase the Grant Wood Trail right-of-way, east of Marion. Now this connection is becoming ever more popular and important.

Meanwhile, Federal and State budgets are tightening. As nearby communities and Linn County develop trail projects, it is important we are ready to assist financially to continue the incredible progress we’ve witnessed in the past five years.

For many years, LCTA has conducted an annual Fall Fundraiser — a direct-mail campaign asking for additional contributions from its members. LCTA has given more than $1 million to local jurisdictions in support of trails development. We’ve put your gifts to our organization to great use.

There is no question our members have secured a continued bright future for trails development in Linn County. LCTA’s advocacy work also contributes to the safety and growth of our trails system. 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.

Your generosity can help us continue to blaze new trails for years to come! This year we are launching a $200,000 Capital Campaign effort to ensure our trail-building reserves are full and our organization can act fast on opportunities we are eying. We understand it may be a difficult time for many of you, so we are asking you please consider a gift of any amount. $1 helps. $25 helps. $1,000 helps even more.

We know you give generously to many during this season, and we appreciate you keeping the Linn County Trails Association in mind.

Thank you, and Happy Trails!