County says Mehaffey Bridge Trail all but complete

Johnson County has finished the Mehaffey Bridge Road Trail and expects to complete the Hoover Trail soon.

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County says Mehaffey Bridge Trail all but complete

The Mehaffey Bridge Road trail is seen on Sunday July 7, 2019. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

The Mehaffey Bridge Road trail is seen on Sunday July 7, 2019. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

Emily Wangen

The Mehaffey Bridge Road trail is seen on Sunday July 7, 2019. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

Emily Wangen

Emily Wangen

The Mehaffey Bridge Road trail is seen on Sunday July 7, 2019. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

Andy Mitchell, News Reporter

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With the Mehaffey Bridge Road trail completed and the third phase of the Hoover Trail commencing soon, Johnson County’s vision of a more connected community is nearing fruition.

A county press release said the construction around the Mehaffey Bridge Road Trail (also known as the Iowa River Trail), which connects Cedar Springs Drive and the Coralville Reservoir, is substantially complete and open for use.

“Minor work to the trail may occur over the oncoming weeks as the project is completed and intermittent Mehaffey Bridge Road/F28 daytime lane closures may be required as well,” the press release said.

Since 2017, the county has worked on miles of trails on a multimillion-dollar project to provide new amenities for cyclists and hikers while also bridging the divide between urban and rural Iowans.

“This spring, we were able to finish paving the remaining length of trail, paving the remaining driveway approaches, paving the new boat-ramp entrance, and building the north parking lot,” said Neil Shatek, the project manager for the Iowa River Trail in an email to The Daily Iowan. “Mehaffey Bridge Road traffic will no longer be hindered by construction activities.”

RELATED: Multimillion dollar Johnson County trail projects near completion 

Since its opening, the Mehaffey Bridge Trail extension has seen use in hectic situations. Brad Freidhof, conservation program manager for the Johnson County Conservation Board, said the Big Rove bicycle event ran through the Iowa River Trail without a hitch. The newly constructed bridge dock was also able to remain open while the water at the Coralville Reservoir was high.

Despite work difficulties because of the recent summer heat, he said, the county established erosion control and vegetation around the trail as part of the finishing touches. Signage will be next.

Freidhof also said that unfortunately, a piece of the trail that runs through North Liberty has been taken out to accommodate construction on the new Grant Elementary School, and cyclists have had to find ways around it.

“It’s really increased the safety of [Mehaffey Bridge Road] by giving bikers a safe alternative,” he said.

Additionally, he said, work on Phase 3 of the Hoover Trail is set to start this summer.The phase will focus on finishing the trail pavement between Ely and Solon. The Hoover Trail has been in the works since its conception more than a decade ago; it is set to link Ely and Solon with Cedar Rapids. The 6-mile project is projected to cost $3.5 million.

The Iowa River Trail, with a cost of $1 million per mile, the more than 2 miles of trail is set to cost under $2.5 million.

The future of the county’s trail project is focused on a triangular trail network, connecting the Hoover Trail to West Branch and to connect the Clear Creek Trail to the Amana Colonies.