HURRAH! Guthrie County’s Board of Supervors reconsider and vote to allow the paving of two gravel road crossings on the Raccoon River Valley Trail’s new north loop, between Jamaica and Herndon. Additional information helped the supervisors satisfy their earlier concerns about construction standards and possible liability for the county. Their decision means the entire 33-mile north loop, on which work is being completed now, will feature the latest design and construction techniques in trail building, to enhance safety and reduce maintenance costs. “This news is a very positive move by the supervisors,” said the RRVT’s project manager Mike Wallace.
GUTHRIE CENTER, Iowa, September 19, 2012 – In a surprising reconsideration, the Guthrie County Board of Supervisors announced this week that they have voted to approve paving of the Raccoon River Valley Trail’s crossings of two gravel roads between Jamaica and Herndon on the RRVT’s new “north loop,” which is under construction now.
Back in January, the board had voted against the trail’s crossings of the gravel Herndon Road and Victory Avenue, mainly out of concern about possible liability issues. All the other RRVT loop’s crossing of gravel roads are in Dallas County, and all have been paved, or will be. Concrete is being used in all of the paving.
Late this summer, as the paving project of the new stretch of trail was being scheduled in northeast Guthrie County, the supervisors reviewed additional information from Snyder & Associates, the firm which has designed and engineered the new trail. Everett Grasty, vice-chairman of the board, said they also received “additional information on liability issues that might face the county,” and that apparently resolved their earlier conerns.
In their meeting on September 6, Guthrie County Conservation Director Joe Hanner spent time with the board and “discussed the paving of the two bike trail crossings in Guthrie County that are part of the north loop,” the minutes of the meeting report. “Since the paving was part of the project and already paid for, the board did not have a problem with paving the two crossings.” Supervisor Jerome Caraher made the motion to allow the paving of the crossings, Grasty seconded it and there were “aye” votes from those two supervisors as well as Tom Rutledge and Clifford Carney. The board’s chairperson Mike Dickson was absent.
Word of the decision was sent this week by Guthrie County Auditor Jerri Christman to Mike Wallace, the Dallas County Conservation director who is managing the development of the north loop project, both in Dallas and Guthrie Counties. Wallace was delighted, as are other trail advocates who have learned about the Guthrie County supervisors’ decision.
“It’s great to see that the Guthrie County supervisors have agreed to paving these two gravel trail crossings on the north loop,” Wallace said. “Their decision will allow a consistent trail construction design from Waukee in Dallas County, all the way to Herndon in Guthrie County. This news is a very positive move by the supervisors, and trail users will be excited about this when they hear about it.”
Wallace went on to credit Guthrie conservation director Hanner for doing “a great job of providing the additional information to the supervisors to assist in the decision.”
The RRVT, Wallace continued, “is one of the best paved trails around, and with the completion of the north loop will have one of the longest paved loops in the nation — about 72 miles. The status of the RRVT will be enhanced by the Guthrie supervisors’ decision. The high-quality design of this north loop creates additional opportunities for the communities that it is passing through. This is already evident in the communities that have the new trail completed in earlier phases. The communities of Waukee, Dallas Center, Minburn, Perry and Dawson have all shown various degrees of additional development, and an increased sense of pride, when the trail addition was completed in their communities.”
All the work on the new north loop is scheduled for completion next May, although some portions of it may be finished earlier, depending on the weather.
“We can look forward to a grand opening and big party in celebration of the completion of such a large project,” Wallace said. “This 33-mile addition has been one of the biggest trail projects in the state of Iowa in a long time. There have been many partners in this journey and I am appreciative of all of them, large or small.”
The original trail, from Waukee to Jefferson, is 56 miles long. So once the loop is completed, the full length of the RRVT will be 89 miles, making it one of the longest paved trails in the U.S.