Government

Linn County conservation projects moving ahead

Many of initial 18 helped by bond to start in next year

Metal piles are seen Thursday as construction continues on the East Blue Creek Bridge on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, north of Center Point. A new bridge, which spans 150 feet of poured concrete and will be 14 feet wide, will replace an older wooden railroad bridge incapable of bearing loads required to pave sections of the trail in the coming years. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Metal piles are seen Thursday as construction continues on the East Blue Creek Bridge on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, north of Center Point. A new bridge, which spans 150 feet of poured concrete and will be 14 feet wide, will replace an older wooden railroad bridge incapable of bearing loads required to pave sections of the trail in the coming years. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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BACKGROUND

A $40 million Linn County Water and Land Legacy bond passed in November 2016 with 74 percent of participating voters in favor. The 20-year bond program is expected to cost the average Linn County homeowner about $27 annually.

The Linn County Conservation Board and then the Linn County Board of Supervisors signed off on the first 18 projects that would tap into the bond financing. Supervisors passed a resolution April 25 issuing $5.62 million from the program.

WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE

Many of those 18 projects are expected to be underway within the next year.

“We’re just in that gearing-up stage where we’ve got a few going and some under bid,” said Randy Burke, an outdoor recreation planner with Linn County Conservation who is overseeing the 18 projects.

Of them, the 51-acre Chain Lakes and 35-acre Morgan Creek Park land acquisitions have been completed, and the Wandering Woods natural playscape at Wickiup Hill is almost finished.

Burke said if all goes well, a Wickiup Hill wetland project should go to bid in late August or early September and begin construction in the fall.

“We’re waiting on approval from the Fish and Wildlife Service right now,” Burke said.

The Wickiup wetland project was approved once, but a lot of silt came into the area. The job of cleaning out the silt will double the size of the project, which is why it needs approval again.

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Iowa Bridge and Culvert has been contracted to replace the East Blue Creek Bridge along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail near Center Point. Work on the bridge began in July and should finish up in the next three to four months.

“It (the new bridge) opens up the creek better to allow flow through and you don’t get stuff caught underneath. We were constantly coming out there and having to get down below and cut out trees and stuff that were coming in,” Burke said.

Peterson Contractors is set to begin reconstruction work Aug. 13 on the Grant Wood Trail, and bidding is underway for the Hoover Nature Trail resurfacing project. And engineering work has started for te first phase of a Highway 100 trail project.

The planned conservation and restoration projects at Buffalo Creek Park and along the Wapsipinicon River at Matsell Bridge have not started.

Various Pinicon Ridge Park projects also have yet to begin, but Burke said sign installation projects at Squaw Creek and Pinicon Ridge Parks likely will open for bidding in the winter with construction set to start sometime in 2019.

The 18 projects that have been announced currently are projected to cost as much as $10.2 million to complete. Many will not be fully funded by the bond.

Linn County Conservation hopes to make up the difference with funds leveraged with other dollars, including grants.

“We may not do anything other than the engineering right now until we get some grant money. And we’ll do it in pieces so we can focus to get the grant money offset by state and federal money,” Burke said.

PROJECT SYNOPSIS

Grant Wood Trail

(Reconstruction)

• Total estimate: $1.2 million

• Bond funds: $775,000

Hoover Nature Trail

(Hard surfacing)

• Total estimate: $1 million

• Bond funds: $250,000

Cedar Valley Nature Trail

(East Blue Creek Bridge replacement)

• Total estimate: $830,000

• Bond funds: $250,000

Highway 100 trail

(Phase I planning and construction)

• Total estimate: $1 million

• Bond funds: $374,000

Monarch pollinators

(Various locations)

• Total estimate: $350,000

• Bond funds: $25,000

Matsell Bridge

(North oxbow restoration on Wapsipinicon River)

• Total estimate: $15,000

• Bond funds: $3,000

Chain Lakes

(51-acre land acquisition)

• Total estimate: $240,000


• Bond funds: $100,000

Paris Natural Area

(87-acre land acquisition)

• Total estimate: $425,000

• Bond funds: $425,000

Buffalo Creek

(Wetland construction and restoration)

• Total estimate: $120,000

• Bond funds: $100,000

Buffalo Creek

(15-acre land acquisition)

• Total estimate: $58,000

• Bond funds: $10,000

Morgan Creek Park

(35-acre land acquisition)

• Total estimate: $1.05 million

• Bond funds: $1.05 million

Wickiup’s Wandering Woods

(Playscape)

• Total estimate: $140,000

• Bond funds: $30,000

Wickiup Hill

(Wetland enhancements)

• Total estimate: $395,000

• Bond funds: $306,000

Pinicon Ridge Park

(Drinking water system)

• Total estimate: $500,000

• Bond funds: $380,000

Pinicon Ridge Park

(Playground and restrooms)

• Total estimate: $500,000

• Bond funds: $200,000

Pinicon Ridge Park

(Plains and Group campgrounds shower house)

• Total estimate: $750,000

• Bond funds: $400,000

Pinicon Ridge Park

(Wapsipinicon River scenic overlook)

• Total estimate: $1.5 million

• Bond funds: $620,000

Master Plan signage

(Squaw Creek and Pinicon Ridge Parks)

• Total estimate: $200,000

• Bond funds: $150,000

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