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  • Fri February 24 2012
  • Posted Feb 24, 2012
Written by Tara Bannow - Iowa City Press-Citizen

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors adopted a five-year
Bicycling and Multi-Use Trails Plan on Thursday that will apply to roads
and trails in the unincorporated areas of the county.

The plan, put together by the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County
at the board’s request, primarily focuses on paved shoulders, sidewalks
and grade-separated trails. The majority of paved trails in the county
are built and maintained by municipalities and the University of Iowa.

Four multi-use trails were highlighted as being high-priority corridors when the county is ready to invest in trails:

Clear Creek Trail:
This trail would complete the connection between Iowa City and the
Amana Colonies. The Johnson County Conservation Board was granted about
$513,000 from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which will cover
40 percent of the costs to build the trail from Ireland Avenue to Half
Moon Avenue along Clear Creek. The rest of the project will be paid for
with County Conservation Bond funding.

Mehaffey Bridge Road:
The planned reconstruction of the 2.5 mile-stretch of Mehaffey Bridge
Road between North Liberty to Sugar Bottom Road will include a wide
sidewalk for pedestrians and bicyclists. The bridge reconstruction also
will include a new pedestrian and bicycle lane.

Hoover Nature Trail:
The trail ultimately will connect Burlington to Cedar Rapids, which
would mean developing regional trail connections through Johnson County.
The portions of the trail that run through the county include a segment
between Solon and Linn County, which would cost an estimated $1.5
million to construct, and from Solon to Oasis, would cost about $2.5
million.

Prairie Du Chien Road: The portion of Prairie Du
Chien Road from Newport Road to Saddle Club Road is a popular bicycle
route that connects to a major recreation area. The plan recommends
adding pedestrian and bicycle lanes, with an estimated cost of about
$750,000.

Supervisor Terrence Neuzil praised the board for its
earlier decision to create wide-paved shoulders on roads in
unincorporated areas in the future. He said that has brought many
bicyclists to the county’s trail system.

“Close your eyes and envision where we are in five years — it’s pretty remarkable,” he said,
“and the fact that we have not put a whole lot of local money into this.
The aggressiveness of the trails committees and really just the
collaboration that we’re seeing, I’m really excited to say that this has
been a real successful program.”

Terry Dahms, chairman of the Johnson County Trails Advisory Committee, said Johnson County is ahead of the curve when it comes to wide-paved shoulders.

“We are the envy of other counties because we are an exception to have wide-paved
shoulders as a standard when new roads are built or improved,” he said.

The five-year plan also recommends:

Increasing funding for sign maintenance and reviewing the sign policy. The Johnson
County Trail Foundation purchased and installed 44 new bike route signs
in 2011.

Adding paved shoulders to roads that don’t have separate
bike lanes. They should be at least 4 feet wide or, where vehicle
speeds exceed 50 mph, 6 feet wide.

Water trail facilities and official trail designations by the DNR should be pursued from Iowa
County to Iowa City and at Sutliff on the Cedar River. Water trails are
marked routes on navigable waterways, such as rivers, lakes and canals,
that are used for kayaking, canoeing and other recreational activities.

Reach Tara Bannow at tbannow@press-citizen.com or 887-5418.

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