Iowa River Trail Hardin Commission Chairman Chris Wieting believes the ambitious project that
will pave a 35-mile trail from Hardin County through Marshalltown is a marathon, not a sprint.
But the group received big news recently with the awarding of a 2018 Federal Rec Trails Grant. The
$425,000 grant will pave an additional 2 1/2 miles from the end of the current Iowa River Trail that
is paved just past the Iowa River, to 215th Street in Eldora. That street turns into Washington
Avenue, one of the main roads that travels through the Eldora community.
Wieting said the grant will require a local match of $211,000.
Created in 1991, the federal Recreational Trails Program assists with development and maintenance
of recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both motorized and nonmotorized trail users.
Funding is available to cities, counties, state and federal agencies, and private organizations through
an annual application-based program.
“What makes this one special and exciting for the project is a piece of the stipulation they were
looking for shovel ready paving projects,” Wieting said. “This puts us at roughly 3 1/2 miles of paved
trail here in Hardin County which is approximately what is paved currently in Marshall County.
They’ve had an opportunity to pave more trail than what we have up to this point.”
The chairman said the Iowa River Trail Hardin Commission’s (IRTHC) original five-year goal was to
construct Steamboat Rock to Eldora, but the group was aware it would happen in by way of a step-by-step process.
“This grant…construction completion would be 2020. We are shovel ready by the end of this year,
because our current federal rec trail grant is set to complete the seven additional bridges between
Steamboat Rock and Gifford,” Wieting said. “We are estimating summer of 2020 when paving starts.
Because it’s a federal grant, there are some added steps that a state grant doesn’t have. Such as going
through the process of choosing an engineer and that they have to do preliminary work. It is let
through the Iowa DOT. Our goal would be to have the project go live and be let out in spring of
2020. Completion of paving would happen sometime in summer or fall of 2020.”
Last May, more than 50 supporters, donors and bike enthusiasts gathered in Steamboat Rock to
celebrate a ribbon cutting that marked the opening of a one-mile paved section of the trail. That
work extends one mile toward Eldora, connecting to the Pine Lake Trail.
With any large project, Wieting said the IRTHC is aware that challenges will arise during the
process. But he added the board consists of county residents who want to make Hardin County a
better place to live, as well as have amenities that larger communities possess.
“Our single purpose is to make an attraction for folks to come and visit and bring them back to area.
We want to grow economically,” Wieting said.
By Justin Ites, Times Citizen