• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Welcome Hoover Trail

Phase 1 & II construction bids received by county conservation board
City Engineer Dave Schechinger points out a proposed connection for trail users during a meeting of the Solon City Council Dec. 20. (photo by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– The Hoover Trail is on its way, but how will the City of Solon move bicyclists through town?
Answers will be forthcoming, but a glimpse into the future was offered at a Dec. 20 Solon City Council meeting.
City Engineer Dave Schechinger’s preliminary trail plan addressed how to link the Hoover Trail, the Iowa River Corridor Trail and Sutliff Road with businesses and services in Solon, as well as how the Hoover Trail might exit town to the southeast.
When completed, the Hoover Trail will connect Solon with Cedar Rapids and a trail system that reaches to Cedar Falls, while Johnson County’s widened shoulders on Mehaffey Bridge Road provide a connection with the Iowa River Corridor and Iowa City.
“How do we connect those points through town?” Schechinger asked during his presentation to council members.
His suggestion is to link trail users to Main Street through a planned 8-foot sidewalk along Racine Avenue.
When the city and the Solon Community School District entered into an agreement for the construction of the new Solon Middle School, one of the city’s responsibilities was to install a sidewalk along the west side of Racine Avenue connecting the new building with the city’s sidewalk system.
Council members authorized Schechinger to begin work on a portion of that project back in September.
The proposed 8-foot sidewalk will extend from the middle school north to the Solon Recreation and Nature Area (SRNA), where it will join the city’s existing recreational trail for a stretch before branching off to connect with Main Street.
The city is expected to complete the Racine sidewalk project in segments, starting at the middle school and moving north.
The Hoover Trail, with a trailhead at the SRNA, could follow the former railroad right-of-way down to Stinocher Street to a potential crossing of Highway 1 out of town toward Oasis and West Branch, while fans of Sutliff Road might be able to take advantage of a future connection through Windmill Estates, Schechinger said at the Dec. 20 meeting.
“We have a couple items that we are faced with,” he said. “Number one is Highway 1 is a very difficult crossing. And that becomes very expensive.”
One signalized crossing of Highway 1 exists at Main Street and another is planed for the future at 5th Street, but the possible need for a controlled intersection near a new fire station on the south edge of town might provide another option, he explained.
As the Hoover Trail develops, there will be more of a reason to get bicyclists and other users through town, he said, and those efforts will be coordinated with Johnson County as a future route to West Branch is identified.
“Does anybody have any strong disagreements?” he asked after presenting the general concept.
There were no questions from council members, and Mayor Steve Stange pointed out the unofficial plan mirrored previous discussions.
City Administrator Cami Rasmussen noted staff held off on bringing the preliminary trail plan before council members until the Hoover Trail project moved forward.
That 5.8-mile project, linking Solon and Ely, will be completed in three phases, and two of those phases, including the trailhead at the SRNA, will be under construction next year.
At a Dec. 19 meeting, the members of the Johnson County Conservation Board (JCCB) reviewed bids for Phase I and II, according to Conservation Program Manager Brad Friedhof.
Peterson Contractors Inc. (PCI), which has also been awarded the contract for the construction of a separated trail between Mehaffey Bridge and the North Liberty city limits, appears to be the low bidder for Hoover Trail, Friedhof said.
PCI submitted a bid of $2,500,716.74.
The Iowa Department of Transportation will work with the JCCB to review the final bid and prepare contracts, he said, with formal approval by the JCCB expected in January.
“Once the contracts are signed with the selected bidder, a pre-construction meeting will be held and will include all the parties involved with the project,” Friedhof said in an email.
Friedhof said the first two phases will be complete this summer, with the remaining section, including a pedestrian underpass, coinciding with the reconstruction of Ely Road in 2019.
The first phase will start with the creation of a trailhead at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area (SRNA) and a hard surface trail heading west, next to the existing Lake Macbride Trail, for about a third of a mile. It then veers northwest, on a railroad bed, just east of Polk Avenue to Highway 382.
The second segment will pick up where Linn County leaves off at the Linn/Johnson county line, extending the trail from Seven Sisters Road to a point where the trail crosses Ely Road.
The final segment fills in the gap, last because it aligns the most with Ely Road, which will be the subject of extensive reconstruction by the Johnson County Secondary Roads Department. When completed, a portion of the roadbed will be raised to mitigate flood events and paved shoulders will be added.
Along with the underpass of Ely Road, the proposed trail also features other amenities, including a short spur will connect the trail to the Atherton Wetland (just south of 120th Street), and wayside parks to be placed in an area shaded by pine trees just north of 140th Street and along the Gaddis Pond purchased by the Conservation Department. The trailhead at Solon will receive some special attention, with way-finding information and trail rules displayed.
“I think everyone in the county is excited to see this project completed,” Friedhof said. “It will be a fun route from New Bo (Cedar Rapids) with a stop option in Ely and ending in Solon or reverse the route. I expect a lot of great activities on this section of trail.”