Portion of Cedar Valley Nature Trail paved and ready for use

Ribbon-cutting, excursion takes place Aug. 12 in Center Point

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CENTER POINT — Bikers are in for a smooth ride after the recent paving of an approximately 3.5-mile portion of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail in Center Point.

Construction on the trail from Schultz Road to Ash Lane began in August 2016. A ribbon-cutting and trail excursion set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, marks the finish of the $1.36 million project.

Officials from the Linn County Trails Association and Linn County Conservation are ready to celebrate their largest fundraising initiative to date, said Phillip Platz, outreach and public awareness coordinator for the association. The event also will honor Linn County Conservation for funding, and the Iowa Department of Transportation for a state recreational trails grant.

The event is open to the public.

“We want everyone to see that every dollar counts and every dollar helps,” said Platz.

The Cedar Valley Nature Trail connects to nearly 70 miles of trails from Cedar Falls to Ely. Since 2004, the Linn County Trails Association has been working to pave more than 35 miles of crushed-limestone surface of the trail from Hiawatha To La Porte City.

“We just keep chipping away,” Platz said. “We’re coming close to closing the gap of non-paved surface. You’re going to see a trail that’s one of the longest in the region once it’s finished.”

Use along the portion of trail in Center Point has increased in the last few years. In 2013, there was an average of 785 users each week during the months of June and July. By 2017, there was an average of 1,888 users each week during June and July, according to the most recent count available on the Linn County Trails Association website at linncountytrails.org.

“Each time we get further and further (paving), the count just explodes,” Platz said. “Some of the work we’ve done ... helps to show how important trails are and how important having quality trails is. Those numbers have helped plead the case that trails need to get built, and many feel safer and happier on paved trails.”

And besides the recreation and health benefits, economic benefits abound when trails connect rural and urban cities, Platz said. As Iowans may know from other biking communities, such as the towns along the High Trestle Trail in central Iowa, restaurants and other businesses crop up along the bike trails to serve the flow of customers.

And existing businesses appreciate the connectivity and recreation, Platz said.

“We see a lot of people, like your Rockwell Collins and United Fire, donate (to the paving project) because they know that having quality recreation helps their own employee retention goals,” Platz said. “This trail is a great backbone through the system in Linn County, allowing commuters to connect to get to their workplaces.”

Platz said Linn County Conservation is already helping to pave the 22-mile gap left in hard-surface trail by replacing a bridge over West Blue Creek that will allow them to pave the trail to the county line. Bridge replacement over East Blue Creek is tentatively scheduled for next year to allow paving on the trail to Urbana, Platz said.

l Comments: (319) 368-8516; makayla.tendall@thegazette.com

If You Go

- What: Ribbon-cutting ceremony and excursion on newly paved portion of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail from Schultz Road to Ash Lane in Center Point.

- When: 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12

- Where: Center Point Depot Museum, 700 E. Washington St.

- Details: Event takes place rain or shine. Guests are encouraged to bike to the event.

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