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A scenic, tree-shaded portion of the popular Great Western Trail would be preserved under West Des Moines' latest plan to extend Veterans Parkway.

The city proposes shifting the roadway's path to the north, leaving the trail and surrounding trees intact.

The adjustment is expected to please cycling enthusiasts who balked at earlier proposals that encroached on the trail. But it comes at the expense of six homes that would be razed to make way for the road extension.

"We essentially don't touch the bike trail through this whole entire stretch," said Brian Hemesath, principal engineer for West Des Moines. "The trail itself and the trees themselves will remain as they are."

Cycling and conservation enthusiasts packed meetings to protest initial plans that would have displaced about two miles of the 17-mile trail between Southeast County Line Road and Southeast 35th Street. The city planned to build a new bike path along the road, but bike riders said it would pale in comparison to the canopied trail that exists there now.

"I'm pleased with (this) option, and I hope others are also," said Carl Voss, co-founder of the Des Moines Bicycle Collective. "There was a lot of angst in the beginning."


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