• Sun September 14 2003
  • Posted Sep 14, 2003
By JOHN JENNINGS/NDN Staff Writer Newton Daily New After several delays, Jasper County's portion of the Grinnell Area Recreational Trail to Rock Creek Lake is now under construction. Jasper County's Secondary Roads Department has been moving dirt for the past three weeks, building up the road shoulders on the eastern portions of the trail along Highways F-27 and T-38. County employees are hauling dirt for the trail's berm from an area on T-38, a site that has had a history of creating snow drifting during winter. Jasper County Engineer Mike Olson said the dirt-moving is a by-product of the secondary roads normal bank removal projects, saving the county approximately $200,000. Olson estimated the county's portion of the trail work will be completed by late October. Bids will be let in October for the surfacing of the trail by a private firm and paving of the total project should be completed by next summer. Jasper County Conservation Board naturalist Katie Cantu said the trail's side slopes will be seeded this fall with a cover crop of oats or rye. Low-growing prairie grasses and forbs will be planted on the berm slopes. Once the trail is completed the Conservation Board will accept responsibility for maintenance within Jasper County. Construction crews from Riverview Release Center will construct two bridges on the trails, one near the Poweshiek County line and one near the Rock Creek Lake causeway, utilizing excess wood materials from Jasper County Secondary Roads Department. The trail begins in Grinnell near the municipal swimming pool and borders Highway F-27 west out of Grinnell. The trail jogs north on T-38 then follows F-27 to Rock Creek Lake. Jasper County Conservation Board Director Dennis Black told the supervisors in June that Jasper County's portion of the project was ready to proceed. The supervisors initially balked at the prospect of utilizing the county's secondary roads department for dirt work. A Department of Transportation limit on road construction projects utilizing county employees had been set at $50,000, but was recently raised to $65,000. Olson advised the supervisors that his involvement in the project was legal under DOT stipulations, however, and the supervisors eventually gave approval for the project. Although Black had hoped to be able to oversee the project this summer, he is now with an Iowa trade delegation in Taiwan. Still, Black said, he was pleased that the project was under way. "Thanks to the board of supervisors for allowing it to happen," Black said. "This project cost Jasper County taxpayers zero dollars. We received $130,000 in donations from Grinnell residents and the rest was state funds and a federal grant." Total cost for the first segment of the trail, about 1.25 miles in Poweshiek County, was $200,000, 20 percent of which was funded locally and the remainder by a grant from the state's Region Six Planning Agency. In Jasper County, total cost for the project, approximately 4.2 miles from the county line to Rock Creek, was $686,000. Seventy percent of that figure was funded through a grant from Iowa Department of Transportation's state enhancement program and an additional 10 percent was awarded by the Central Iowa Regional Transportation Planning Alliance. The remainder was provided by a local match from Jasper County. Clapsaddle-Garber and Associates are the project consultants. Cantu said many residents in both counties have been eagerly awaiting the completion of the bike trail, and she hoped it will be as popular as other area trails. "The Chichauqua Valley Recreational Trail in western Jasper County was built on an old railroad bed going from Baxter to Bondurant," Cantu said. "On any given day, you can find someone on the trail, either biking, walking, jogging or pushing a baby stroller. We have received such positive feedback from this trail, and we hope the GART will also become a place people go to for recreation." Jasper County also owns the former Iowa Interstate Railroad bed from Monroe west to the eastern edge of Prairie City, which could eventually be converted to a recreational trail as well.

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