Government

Views from atop Mount Trashmore must wait

Water main work delays trails, overlook until September

Downtown Cedar Rapids is seen April 19 from a new scenic overlook atop the Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency’s capped landfill, better known as Mount Trashmore. Although the observation deck work is done, a water main project will delay the opening of the overlook and trails until September. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Downtown Cedar Rapids is seen April 19 from a new scenic overlook atop the Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency’s capped landfill, better known as Mount Trashmore. Although the observation deck work is done, a water main project will delay the opening of the overlook and trails until September. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Residents will need to wait a little longer to summit hiking and biking trails to an observation deck atop one of Cedar Rapids’ highest points — Mount Trashmore, the decommissioned landfill overlooking the skyline.

The observation deck and the trails are complete, but some related and unrelated work remains unfinished, prompting officials to push back the opening date.

“We are trying to get everything wrapped up so once we do open we don’t have to close it back down,” said Karmin McShane, executive director of the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, which manages Mount Trashmore.

A soft opening and ribbon cutting now is being planned for 1 p.m., Sept. 6, she said. Officials had been planning to open the new feature in mid-to-late June when the trails were set to be completed. The observation deck was largely completed in March.

A few things threw the plans off schedule.

The agency had been holding off on a water main project near the foot of the hill in hopes of coordinating with a city levee project near the main entrance. However, the timelines weren’t matching up so administrators decided to get started on the water main and finish it before the trails and deck open, McShane said.

A gate separating the recreation area from a composting operation and restricting vehicle access is being erected as an extra safety measure, informational signs are being checked for accuracy and stone pillars are being constructed at the base to match the design of the observation deck.

The recently completed trail system includes a 4,000-foot walking-hiking trail that sweeps across the base of the hill and then ascends to the top of the 948-foot-tall man-made trash hill in a series of switchback curves. A downhill-only biking trail descends in a series of switchbacks, and a multiuse trail is open to cyclists and foot traffic for both uphill and downhill travel. The trail system and observation deck face downtown.

The Linn Area Mountain Bike Association will maintain the trails, McShane said.

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Joe Horaney, a spokesman for the agency, noted access would be closed for bad weather and cautioned, “even though this will seem parklike, this is a regulated site.”

McShane added, “So stay on the trails.”

A gas and monitoring well system remains on site to assure safety, Horaney has said. The landfill was capped with 4 feet of clay in 2012 and topped by vegetation. The wells and pipe system capture the methane, which is sucked out to a flare and destroyed, he said.

The budget was $590,000 for the overlook, with four levels of terraced seating, a curved retaining wall, a stone walkway, posts and markers and demolition of the old scale house.

The agency signed a $145,920 contract with McGill Trail Fabrication, a bike trail specialist from Silverthorne, Colo., to build the trails.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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