MARION — A chunk of the Boyson Trail between Thomas and Donnelly Parks is closed as Marion begins to prepare for its work on constructing the CeMar Trail.
The city is starting with phase three of the five-phase project, which involves removing the railroad bridge and constructing a pedestrian bridge over Indian Creek.
A portion of Lindale Trail that runs from Lindale Drive to Boyson also is closed.
Kesha Billings, associate planner for the city of Marion, said construction is beginning with phase three because of how time intensive that phase will be. She said phase three can take up to 150 working days and the trail closure will last into 2021.
“I cannot stress enough that people really need to obey the signs,” Billings said. “That chunk of trail is going to be closed for a while, but totally worth it in the end.”
The CeMar Trail project will renovate and pave existing trails and add new ones, connecting Uptown Marion with downtown Cedar Rapids. When complete, the trail will be 7 miles long with around four of those being in Marion. The entire project is expected to be complete in 2022 or 2023.
The project has long been envisioned, with the first plans surfacing in 1992.
The Marion portion of the project is estimated to cost around $6.3 million, with 80 percent being funded federally.
Phase one of the project involves demolishing the railroad bridge that spans over Marion Boulevard. This phase is expected to start by the end of August.
The bridge, which was built in the early 1900s, is viewed by many residents as historic. Billings previously said the bridge is not safe as it stands now.
The railroad bridge will be replaced by another pedestrian bridge, which is phase four of the overall project. Local artist Cara Briggs Farmer and Synergy Metal Works were selected to design the gateway features of the bridge, which are locally funded, Billings said.
The construction of that bridge will begin next year. Billings said the elevation of the bridge will remain the same, but it will be thinner at 16 feet across, instead of the 30 feet it is now.
Phase two involves paving the existing trails throughout Thomas and Legion Parks to just north of Highway 100. Billings said that because the project is federally funded, the trails have to be paved. This phase also starts in August and should be done by the end of the year, weather permitting, Billings said.
Phase five is another sizable phase with a lot of moving parts. The phase is dependent on the construction of the new Indian Creek Sanitary Trunk Sewer and most likely will take a couple of years to complete. Phase five also includes the construction of the trail heading under Highway 100 toward Cedar Rapids.
Mike Barkalow, city engineer for Marion, said it hasn’t been established yet how many working days phase five will have. He said the sewer line will have to be reconstructed and put in place before trail work can happen.
“We don’t want to build the trail and then go back in and tear it out,” Barkalow said. “This one will also have several bridges, but they are simpler bridges, similar to the one near Donnelly Park that we put in.”
Barkalow said the city also is working with property owners as the trail goes through Heritage Woods on the south side of Highway 100.
Billings said all the phases coming together finally is what she has been looking forward to.
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“We’re really excited. I just think the extra connection in Uptown is a really awesome thing,” she said.