• Posted Sep 22, 2007

Des Moines Trails Updates

By A DM Biker September 23rd 2007 Next year will be a major turning point for trail users in the Des Moines area.. That’s the word this week from Des Moines Parks and Recreation Trails Coordinator Richard Brown. This isn’t the old Chicago Cubs “wait’ll next year” mantra. It’s the real deal. Brown calls 2008 “the year of the major connection” for Des Moines trails. It’s easy to see why he’s so enthusiastic.
It’s a Stake-out! Next spring these markers near North Valley Drive & SW 56th will be replaced with construction workers and equipment.
Brown says the much anticipated second phase of the Walnut Creek trail could be finished by early summer, weather and construction schedules permitting. One of the reasons for the delay in completion was a requirement to find ‘replacement wetland”. The trail will take about 2 acres of wetlands out of reserve and those have to be replaced—somewhere in the city. “Final bids on construction should be let in January” says Brown, adding construction will start “whenever the weather breaks.” This second phase will pick up where phase one ended- at North Valley Drive, west of SW 56th. It will continue along the east side of Walnut Creek into Ashworth Park connecting to the Bill Riley trail near the railroad crossing. Google map of area (click on satellite view) The completion removes a true “missing link,” allowing hikers and bikers from the Neal Smith, Dorrian, Meredith and Great Western trails, direct trail access to Clive Greenbelt and Raccoon River trails. A couple of blocks “on the roads” near 72nd and University will get trail users from the downtown or Great Western trails onto the Windsor Heights, Urbandale and Johnston systems.
Veer Here- Next Year! Looking west with Meredith/Kruidenier in foreground, stakes mark trail that will go under Fleur Drive
I made up that name. Officially this is now called the American Discovery Trail Segment Four. But it’s the project that replaces a tunnel or bridge under/over Fleur Drive. This trail will have “an old industrial look and feel” says Brown. “It will be a different experience from the park-like trails.” Here’s the scene: Southeast area of Gray’s Lake Park. This is where the existing Meredith trail veers into the park and hooks up with the Kruidenier trail around the lake. Brown says the new trail will continue west from this intersection, along the rail bed that goes under the Fleur viaduct and continue to SW 30th. It will turn north along SW 30th, cross Flagg Parkway and go into Water Works park, where the trail will continue to the footbridge over the Des Moines River. “We will have a trail that parallels the park road,” Brown says. This project should be bid in March or April according to Brown with summer construction and completion by fall.
View Larger Map If you like to think like Brown does, he envisions the “perfect connector” along this same trail that would keep going west a mile from the SW30th intersection (check the Google satellite view, you can see the old rail bed continuing west) and hook up with the Great Western north trail-head at Flagg Parkway and Park Avenue. A dream for now? Brown says “It’s on the radar.”
TRESTLE TO TRESTLE-just a few weeks away
TRESTLE-MANIA! With the Inter Urban Trestle as a backdrop, the Trestle to Trestle trail nears completion
As mentioned last week in the BIKEIOWA.COM features section, the Trestle to Trestle trail is about a month from completion (late October). As of this writing, workers are tunneling beneath Beaver Avenue a couple of hundred yards north of Lower Beaver Road. VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS from September 22nd 2007. The $1.3 million Trestle to Trestle project is jointly funded by Des Moines, Johnston, the state and Polk County. It will link Johnston riders and hikers and their trail system to Des Moines’ Inter Urban Trail and the Neal Smith Trail.
View Larger Map The route heads south from Johnston between Beaver and Merle Hay Road, under I-80/35, east and south along the Des Moines River. It passes through an old industrial area and brick yard in the same area as a planned Thai Village. Users return to city life west of the former Target store and cross what’s now a parking lot in front of that building before a short dip under Euclid and into some riverside woods, connecting to the Inter Urban west of the DM River bridge. Again, it should be open by late October.
BUT WAIT! DON’T CHANGE THE CHANNEL! THERE’S MORE! Hikers & bikers on Des Moines’ southeast side are in for some great surprises. A “Downtown to the Bypass” trail is in the works. Brown says project is funded right now and awaiting environmental and archeological studies. He sees a three phase project. The first part would begin with at the Scott Street bridge (view map) near Principal Park and continue to the Cownie Soccer Park. The route would generally go along the south bank of the Des Moines River. From Cownie Park, phase two would go to the Easter Lake area. The final section would go from the lake to the Highway 65 bypass. A realistic time frame for completion of the entire project is five years says Brown. He also hopes for a Carlisle connection to link the south end of the proposed trail with a connector to the 12 mile long Summerset trail between Carlisle and Indianola. ***** Yet another trail possibility in the years to come could be an east-west trail between the southern trail-head of the Gay Lea Wilson Trail at Scott and Four Mile Creek and Downtown. The expected route would be along the SE Connector. You can visualize that by drawing a line from the East end of ML King at the DM River and the south end of the trail.
SAFETY IN NUMBERS! Finally, Brown says the 9-1-1 locator system for the Des Moines section of the Neal Smith Trail and Inter Urban Trail will soon be operational. You may have seen blank posts along these trails. Shortly they’ll have a six number code. In case of emergency, 911 dispatchers only need to know the code number and should be able to send help to the location. This is joint project involving the city and Eagle Scout candidate Carson Galloway. Great idea Carson! Brown is looking for the numbers to be “posted” soon.
More central Iowa trail news to come! Check back!

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