Willow Creek Trail to receive replacement with costs over $720,000

The City of Iowa City is planning to have several park renovations over summer 2023, including a $720,000 trail replacement that encompasses just under a mile of Willow Creek Trail.


Rohan Abernathy-Wee

The Willow Creek Trail is seen in Iowa City on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

Jack Moore, News Reporter

Approximately 0.9 miles of the two-mile-long Willow Creek Trail will be replaced this summer with an estimated price tag of just over $720,000.

The project is just one of several park renovations that are set to be completed by the fall. May 1 is the start day for the Willow Creek Trail project, and the expected completion date is Sept. 30.

Willow Creek Trail is located in southwest Iowa City and follows along the Willow Creek waterway for nearly 1.5 miles. The trail connects to adjacent Kiwanis Park, Willow Creek Park, and Iowa City West High School, making it a popular spot for walking and biking.

The project will extend just under a mile, starting at Willow Creek Drive and ending at Benton Street. Additionally, an existing spur of the trail that connects to Aber Avenue and curb ramps and sidewalks will be replaced.

The trail is constructed of asphalt, which has experienced erosion and cracks over time. The degradation of the trail created safety concerns enabling the reconstruction project.

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Director of Parks and Recreation Juli Seydell Johnson said along with safety being a factor in the trail’s replacement, the renovations will allow the trail to last for a longer time.

“The current trail has its surfaces degraded to a point where it has safety concerns,” Seydell Johnson said. “This will replace it with new concrete, which should last for at least 20 years.”

Tyler Olson, the Iowa City civil engineer for the project, said the concrete will give the trail better support against erosion.

“The replacement trail would remain in nearly the same location as the existing trail and would be constructed of concrete,” Olson said.

Olson said Iowa City is working on cleaning the surrounding area of the trail to prepare enough space for the project.

“The city has been preparing for some of the work by clearing vegetation alongside the existing trail to make working space available for construction,” Olson said.

There are currently three listed phases of the project, each lasting 42 calendar days. These phases will consist of laying concrete on different sections of the trail.

“The construction work starting in 2023 would involve several construction phases, where the trail would be removed and replaced in sections at a time starting from Willow Creek Drive on the far south side of the project corridor,” Olson said.

Other park renovation projects

The Willow Creek Trail replacement is accompanied by several other park projects taking place over the summer months.

Kiwanis Park, Hunters Run Park, and Happy Hollow Park are set to have playground construction start on April. 3 and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30 —the same date as Willow Creek. Additionally, the park renovation project will add a shelter and restroom to Hickory Hill Park.

Marri VanDyke, Iowa City civil engineer for the playground projects, said the parks would be receiving new playground equipment. For Kiwanis park, VanDyke said the new equipment will include a net climber, a playhouse for younger children, and hammock swings and slides.

VanDyke said the improvement is intended to maintain the natural feel that surrounding residents of the parks appreciate. The new equipment will replace the older playgrounds.

“Some of the old equipment is kind of becoming hard to maintain. So, it needs replaced so that the parks department can get replacement parts more easily. And I think it’ll just kind of freshen things up,” VanDyke said.

The estimated price of the playground and shelter construction is $865,000. With the Willow Creek Trail replacement and park construction, the city will spend nearly $1.585 million on these two park projects.