116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The CeMar Trail project had a productive 2021, with one new pedestrian bridge opening in Marion and another well on its way.
The new bridge that will span Marion Boulevard — near Thomas Park — is about 53 percent done, Marion Associate Planner Kesha Billings said.
Crews will be back working on it in April, or earlier, weather permitting, she said. The goal is to open the bridge in the fall.
The federal government is paying 80 percent of the $1.4 million cost, with the city paying the remaining 20 percent, Billings said.
The city doesn’t anticipate having to close Marion Boulevard, as it did this past fall, during the construction, though the road will have some lane closures in 2022, she said.
“The bridge has some curve in it, and the intent is to be more perpendicular to the road,” Billings said. “This bridge will also be a clear span with no center column like the old railroad bridge had.”
After the bridge has been accepted by the Iowa Department of Transportation, artistic design elements will be added by Marion artist Cara Briggs Farmer.
The bridge is one piece of the larger CeMar Trail project, a decades-old plan to build a trail system connecting downtown Cedar Rapids and Uptown Marion.
The Marion portion of the CeMar Trail is expected to cost $6.7 million, with 80 percent of the funding coming from the federal government.
The trail project got underway in July 2020 with construction of the pedestrian bridge over Indian Creek — where the Milwaukee Road bridge had been. That work closed the trail between Thomas and Donnelly parks.
The new bridge and trail reopened in July. The bridge and surrounding paving cost $1.8 million, with $1.1 million coming from federal funding.
The last phase of the CeMar Trail project is the construction and paving of a trail south of Highway 100.
The city must first acquire property and reconstruct a sewer. The sewer work is likely to start next fall, with construction in 2023, Billings said.
“When people see the dirt moving, it’s not the trail being built. It’s the sewer going in,” she said. “Once we get that done, it allows us to get into trail negotiations with property owners. We haven’t done that part yet because that’s federal dollars.”
Billings said talks with property owners about the sewer project took longer than expected.
“It’s trying to make sure everyone is getting what they want out of it, and each time anything changes, there’s another meeting,” Billings said. “But we want everyone to have an understanding of where everyone is at.”
Trail construction south of Highway 100 likely won’t begin until 2024.
The trail is currently paved from Grand Avenue through Thomas Park in Marion.
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