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  • Sun March 25 2012
  • Posted Jan 4, 2011
Ottumwa, IA
By Cindy Toopes, Courier Staff Writer
December 2, 2010

New paved trail sees action Hellige updates trails progress for this season

President of Trails Council updates trails progress for this season

Whether on foot or bicycles, more people are using the paved trails to get to their jobs, to do some shopping or to exercise.

That makes Kim Hellige smile. She’s the president of the Wapello County Trails Council, and she’s pleased about completing the trail that goes south from the Wabash Bridge, then underneath U.S. Highway 34 and along Madison Avenue.

“This was a REAP project for $150,000 and [REAP] funded it 100 percent,” Hellige said.

But, the trail came up a bit short and the work had to stop near Clinton Avenue, which is about three blocks north of Mary Street.

Hellige said the next project most likely will be the triangle that goes to Mary Street, underneath the highway overpass, then comes back up and across Rabbit Run. Then trail users can get on the levee and connect with the existing trail on the south levee.

Three more trail projects have been funded and will complete the levee system:

• the triangle piece

• the Gray Eagle extension that goes from a little section of road, “then into road sharing and heading toward the Ottumwa/Wapello County Recycling Center.”

Hellige said that section is a full mile and joins the levee a few hundred feet from Gray Eagle, then follows the levee to the city limits.

“That’s a great vantage point of the Des Moines River, with eagles nesting in that area and other wildlife opportunities for a full-mile stretch,” she said.

• The third section will start under the Wapello Street bridge, pick up the levee and follow it to where it joins with Gateway Drive.

Even then, the trails projects aren’t done.

“For example, there’s the parking lot between the north levee, Market Street and Wapello Street,” she said. “Somehow we’ll manage to work on connectors, and then the north levee will be a complete trail.”

The Wapello County Trails Council has looked at the Market Street parking lot and the Ottumwa Water Works, but they’re not sure how to connect those two sections.

“We’re working with the city on that,” Hellige said.

The next project in the trails’ strategic plan is to go underneath U.S. Highway 34 just past the Bark Park and Wayside Park to the entrance of the highway. At the deepest point between the two traffic lights, [the city] will put in a tube or box culvert that will allow hikers and bicyclists to go under the highway.

“By having a tube installed, that will open up that access,” Hellige said. “It’s a safety issue and we’ll be addressing [it].”

She said there’s no safe crossing at Quincy Avenue and U.S. Highway 34 and the trails council and city crews are still studying the layout. They want to connect the Ottumwa Park system with the levee system.

“The ballpark estimate for that project could be from $300,000 to $500,000,” she said. “It’s a multi-year project and will require substantial fundraising.”

Hellige said the city engineering department — including Public Works Director Larry Seals and City Engineer Dan Sturm — have been an “integral part of the process.”

The trails council has plans for several years in the future. One eventual goal is to use Turkey Island, primitive trails and the Gray Eagle area.

For more information, go online to www.wapellocountytrails.com.

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  • Modified: Mar 25, 2012 by ss

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