2017

November 17, 2017  - by Mike Donahey Times Republican

Iowa River Trail enthusiasts will remember 2017 as a year where a lot of earth was moved and concrete poured. Once complete, the trail will connect seven communities in Marshall and Hardin counties, linking Marshalltown, Albion, Liscomb, Union, Gifford, Eldora and Steamboat Rock. It will offer users opportunities ranging from camping to hiking to snowmobiling.


Local work this year included paving from the Ann Keyser Trailhead at Wilson Circle to 12th Street, and from 12th Street to the Summit Street Bridge. TRAILS, Inc. is a Marshalltown-based volunteer group working to complete the hard-surfaced, 10-foot wide trail from Marshalltown to the Hardin County-Marshall County line. President Terry Briggs said Friday a contractor has also completed paving the 12th Street to Summit Street Bridge section. All that remains is the final inspection. Once accepted by the city council, the project will be complete. Work on the trail will resume in the spring of 2018, Briggs said. The retired physician and avid bicyclist said TRAILS, Inc. is eagerly looking forward to next year. “We are working to get engineering and so forth for the Summit Street Bridge and Iowa River Bridge,” Briggs said. “We have a grant to repair the bridges, but it is questionable … it might be better to replace them … because they are not in good shape. Engineering firms looking at them do not feel they are repairable.” Regardless, Briggs said he and TRAILS, Inc. are thrilled with progress to date. “I never thought we would be this far,” said Briggs. The beginnings IRT origins can be traced back to the fall of 2014, when a group of Hardin County and Marshall County businesses, civic leaders and organizations collaborated on a $2 million application to the Iowa Parks Foundation. Central to the application was the proposed development of the Iowa River Trail, whose right-of-way was the 37-mile defunct Iowa River Railroad line running from Marshalltown to Steamboat Rock. (Some local residents would recognize it as the former Minneapolis and St. Louis Rail Road Co). While not funded, the application was a finalist, and was awarded with $20,000 in IPF funds to further develop its application and a coach to assist. It also generated a level of enthusiasm which has not waned. Later, Marshalltown Second Ward Councilor and Mayor-elect Joel Greer, along with others, took a leadership role in advancing the IRT. “My favorite recent project is IRT,” Greer said prior to the Nov. 7 municipal election. “When the county supervisors declined the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s offer to acquire title to the trail, there was little time to convince the city council to take title, form a non-profit corporation (TRAILS, Inc.) apply for 501(c)(3) status and recruit 22 board members. We have raised over $4 million and have paved the first two of 34 miles.” Last year the Marshalltown City Council voted to spend $30,000 on the trail.


Greer said it was necessary for the city to commit funds so as to demonstrate local match, and thereby be more competitive for funds from federal and state grantors as well as business and charitable foundations. (To date, the Ann C. Keyser Charitable Trust and the Martha Ellen-Tye Foundation have made significant awards to the IRT), “A fair amount of funding has also come from state and federal grants,” said Briggs. “If we do not get them, someone else will. Once the funds are allocated, we want to go aggressively after our share.” For more information, visit www.iowariver trail.com.



by Rick Patrie News Editor HARDIN COUNTY –

Summer is here and work has officially started on a recreational trail which will someday forge a link between Steamboat Rock and Marshalltown across 30 miles of Iowa River countryside. The trail will follow the route of the defunct Iowa River Railroad through both Hardin and Marshall Counties. Work had begun in Steamboat Rock this week, and word is that crews are active in Marshalltown as well. Engineers in Steamboat were shoring up an old railway bridge crossing the Iowa River. Effectively, it’s the north launching point for the trail. What is envisioned is a paved concrete surface about ten feet wide with a siding of ten feet crushed rock, also traversable. For about three years the organizers have been acquiring the right of way, planning and arranging financing. By the end of this summer the first mile stretch out of Steamboat Rock should be paved. An even longer section of the line should be rocked and rideable (in its rough state) and a similar start will be under way in Marshalltown. One of the first projects this summer was a general cleanup of the whole route in Hardin County back in May. Trail enthusiasts enlisted students during their annual service learning day for part of that effort. Meanwhile, organizers and supporters of the trail say they will be working up and down the line all summer to identify stands of native and protected prairie, and spare them from spraying which will be done to manage the rail bed otherwise. The bike trail, of course, was never meant to be a manicured turnpike, but instead is proposing to show off the best of the Greenbelt. The plan for the summer is to do a mile of paving starting from an old railway trestle visible south of the D-35 bridge on Steamboat Rock’s west side. Bridges are key to the early stages of the project. There are seven bridges along the route through Hardin County alone. The first order of business is to make them all safe, to install guard rails, and then to do the paving on those portions of the trail. The project has been in the works for nearly three years now. The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation partnered with Hardin County and the City of Marshalltown in the acquisition of the old right of way. From here on out, the rec trail project looks to private dollars for completion. So if you love biking – and presumably a lot of people reading this do – here’s a chance to create a destination. The plan is to have the entire length alternating paved and smooth crushed rock. Work has to be done refitting the whole railroad right of way for safe passage. Organizers say they envision the trail being counted one of the premier biking routes in all of Iowa. While the full length of paving will be accomplished as grant funds allow, the organizers fully expect that by the end of next summer (2018) the trail should be graded in its rough state from Steamboat to Union. That means crushed rock surface that will be usable. In terms of funds, the supporters of the trail project recently got word of a big boost to their project in the form of a $247,000 grant from a federal agency supporting the conversion of old abandoned railroads to other transportation uses. In this case, recreational. The local project will be coming up with a $75,000 match and meanwhile Hardin County and Marshall County supporters of the effort are continuing the search for funds. This summer is phase one of phase one, and will see about a mile of paving from the railway bridge in Steamboat.




April 1, 2017 - by the Eldora Herald Ledger - Rick Patrie
HARDIN COUNTY –.... This should be the summer when biking and outdoor trail enthusiasts begin to see some real development on that 30 plus mile project linking Steamboat Rock and Marshalltown with a recreational trail. The trail will take the route of the once Iowa River Railroad through both Hardin and Marshall Counties. What is envisioned is eventually a paved concrete surface about ten feet wide the entire route and a siding of about another ten feet of crushed rock that should also be traversable. For about three years the organizers have been working hard, but the work has been at the planning and financing tables. Now, this summer the actual work should begin and by the end of the summer the first mile stretch out of Steamboat Rock should be paved, a longer section of the line should be rocked and usable in its rough state, and a similar start will be made in Marshalltown. One of the first projects this summer will be a general cleanup of the route in Hardin County this spring, hoping to team up with students in the schools who are out on their annual service learning day. May 3 it is tentatively set. But the early May activity will just be the start this summer. Organizers and supporters of the trail development say they will be working up and down the line to identify stands of native and protected prairie, to save them from spraying which will be done to manage the rail bed while it awaits further work. The bike trail of course was never meant to be a manicured feature, but instead to show off the best of this areas natural growth. The plan for the summer is to do a mile of paving on the old railway bridge just south of the river bridge on Steamboat Rocks west side. Bridges are a big part of the early stages of the project in fact. There are seven bridges along the portion of the route through Hardin County. The first order of business is to make them all safe, to set up guard rails, and then to do the paving on those portions of the trail. While the full length of paving will be accomplished as grant funds allow, the organizers fully expect that by the end of next summer (of 2018) the trail should be built in its rough state from Steamboat to Union. That means crushed rock surface that will be usable. In terms of funds, the supporters of the trail project recently got word of a big boost to their project in the form of a $247,000 grant from a federal agency supporting the conversion of old abandoned railroads to other transportation uses. In this case, recreational. The local project will be coming up with a $75,000 match and meanwhile Hardin County and Marshall County supporters of the effort are continuing the search for funds. This summer is phase one of phase one, and will see about a mile of paving from the railway bridge in Steamboat.




April 1, 2017 - by the Eldora Herald Ledger
HARDIN COUNTY – The Hardin County Community Endowment Foundation introduced a new idea in this year’s 2017 grant program which it’s labeled a “Tidal Wave Grant”. The recipient was a group dedicated to the Iowa River’s recreational development. Starting this year, should a qualifying organization have a project that impacts a significant
portion of Hardin County,the endowment would consider their grant application for an amount greater than the normal $10,000 maximum. In addition to meeting all other grant qualifications, an applicant asking for consideration for approval under the “Tidal Wave Grant” grant applicant was required to meet other standards of expectation in addition to having a
project that would impact a large portion of Hardin County. Full details were announced at the beginning of the grant cycle last October and remain posted on our website as follows: The maximum grant request is $10,000, not to exceed 50 percent of total project cost except for consideration of Tidal Wave grant. Consideration of Tidal Wave grants (more than $10,000) which significantly impact a large portion of Hardin County may have been granted if an explanation was made
in a special presentation to the HCCEF Affiliate Advisory Board at their regularly scheduled meeting on October 20 or November 17, 2016. This year the board announced they had one applicant for consideration and their grant application was accepted and approved. The first recipient of a grant under our “Tidal Wave Grant” program is The Iowa River-Hardin organization. Iowa River Trail-Hardin The Iowa River Trail-Hardin Commission’s purpose is to acquire, plan, develop, preserve, maintain, promote, and manage the new multipurpose recreation Iowa River Trail in Hardin County.
The trail will offer safe access for walkers, runners, cyclist, skiers, bird watchers, snowmobilers along a thirty four mile route. The trail will have a positive economic impact through increased tourism, retail sales, enhanced property values, and new business opportunities. The particular trail project this year involves the rehabilitation of a historic bridge spanning the Iowa River in Steamboat Rock. This project represents a crucial first step that will open up the trail eventually connecting seven communities from Steamboat Rock to Marshalltown. The Hardin County Community Endowment Foundation extendeda “tidal wave grant” of twenty five thousand dollars ($25,000.00) on the historic bridge in Steamboat Rock on the Iowa River Trail.




March 14, 2017 - Cont'd...March 14, 2017

   -Iowa River Trail Bridge Rehabilitation Effort In Hardin County Receives Federal Funds

The Iowa Transportation Commission approved $1,332,829 in total funding for several federal Recreational Trails Program projects. The federal Recreational Trails Program was created in 1991 for the purpose of developing and maintaining recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both motorized and non-motorized trail users.One of the projects to receive funding will be the Iowa River Trail Bridge Rehabilitation effort over part of Hardin County for $247,000.This funding is available to cities, counties, state and federal agencies, and private organizations through an annual application-based program.The Iowa River Trail starts in Steamboat Rock and travels through Eldora, Gifford, Union, Liscomb, Albion, and ending in Marshalltown. Covering 22 miles through Hardin County and 12 through Marshall County