• Posted May 12, 2008

A long awaited Major Trail connector in Des Moines is just weeks away from becoming reality!

Trail construction for will begin this week, and estimated completion date will be 4-6 weeks depending on the weather.
  • Red - Walnut Creek Trail - Segment 3 (to built)
  • Blue - Walnut Creek Trail (existing)
  • Green - Bill Riley Trail (existing)
(click on the trails for more info)
View Larger Map [older article posted from March 2008 about this segment of the Walnut creek Trail. By TOM BARTON REGISTER STAFF WRITER Des Moines recreation enthusiasts will be able to make an easier jog from the city to the suburbs following construction of a key Iowa trail segment. Bicyclists, joggers, runners, walkers and skaters would have access to all of the trails in the western suburbs and beyond following construction of the third segment of the American Discovery Trail. The Des Moines City Council awarded a $356,975 contract to Sheets Excavating Ltd. of Montezuma to construct the 10-foot- wide trail. The nearly three-quarter-mile segment would run from North Valley Drive to the Bill Riley Trail along Walnut Creek, to create a link with the rest of the trail stretching from Jefferson, through the metro area into downtown Des Moines and back north to Big Creek State Park near Saylorville Lake. The previous two segments of the trail provided connections from downtown's west end to Ashworth Park. "This trail is one of the most important trails in the state," said Richard Brown, Des Moines parks planner. "By completing the link, trail users will have access to just about every corner of the metro area by trail." The segment is part of a larger coast-to-coast trail of the same name, which runs more than 6,800 miles from California to Delaware across 15 states, including Iowa. With the completion of the trail segment, users will be able to travel in-state from Council Bluffs east to Davenport. "I receive communication daily from neighbors and trail users asking when this trail will be completed," Brown said. "We look at this as our 'spine' trail because when it's completed you have one continual trail. This is the only missing link for the more than 110-mile-long trail in Iowa." Before, trail users were forced to use Grand Avenue or some other street to make the connection to and from the area to downtown and surrounding trails. Construction will be completed in two divisions and is slated to begin this spring. Brown said he estimated the project would be completed by the end of summer. A majority of the project's cost, $272,895, would be paid for through federal transportation dollars, with the city of Des Moines paying the rest. Brown said the project, originally part of the parks department's master plan in 2000, had been stalled by the need to find outside funding, preferred route alignment and property acquisition. "It took so long to get the pieces together," he said. But where concern has been raised to the north by members of the Waterbury Neighborhood Association about a different proposed trail, residents of the surrounding Linden Heights, Greenwood Historic, Salisbury Oaks and Westwood neighborhoods have been supportive. "I think it's a good thing for the city and for the community. I'm glad to see it going through," said Lee Bissmeyer, president of the Linden Heights Neighborhood Association. Though the group has not voted or taken a formal stance approving the project, Bissmeyer said residents have not complained. "In general, we think it's a great thing," he said. "You're talking about a city and an area that does quite a bit of biking, so it only makes sense." But where the Waveland Trail in the Waterbury neighborhood would come within 60 feet of some houses, an active railroad line, Walnut Creek and the Raccoon River greenbelt separate homes from the American Discovery Trail. The city, though, did purchase portions of two properties for construction. Neither had a home on it. The parks department will clear an unknown number of trees to accommodate the trail. Brown said efforts were made to reduce the number and size of trees being removed. Trees surrounding the trail will be protected during construction to reduce any potential damage, he said. Though the city does not have official counts on the use of the current American Discovery Trail segments in the city, Brown said they are some of the most popular in Des Moines. "They provide links between destinations, as the Meredith Trail between Gray's Lake and downtown Des Moines provides. We also expect this segment of trail will increase the number of people using our trails because of the key link that it provides between Des Moines and its suburbs," he said. A fourth segment is planned for early this summer, which will connect Water Works Park with Gray's Lake Park. Other Walnut Creek Trail postings on BIKEIOWA

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