Abandoned Railroad Creates Trail Opportunity
In March 2006, the Union Pacific Railroad filed for the abandonment of a 3.2-mile corridor between the central Iowa cities of Ellsworth and Jewell. Viewed as the ideal location for a future trail connection, the Hamilton County Conservation Board secured funding for the right-of-way through a special state transportation appropriation. With assistance from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Hamilton County purchased the corridor in 2009. In the years following, four additional properties were acquired to complete the project.
Establishing Community Connections
Substantially complete as of November 2016, the JewEllsworth Trail consists of a 10-foot wide, 3.5-mile long, paved trail along Hwy 175 connecting the cities of Jewell and Ellsworth. In Jewell, bicycle lanes and shared lane markings complete an additional 0.5-mile connection through downtown to the previously existing 1-mile Jewell Jubilee Trail. In Ellsworth, shared lane markings complete an additional 0.4-mile route through town.
Noteworthy accomplishments include:
- Rehabilitation of two former railroad bridges between Jewell and Ellsworth. One being a 63-foot timber bridge over an unnamed tributary and the other a 225-foot steel girder bridge over the Skunk River.
- Installation of a new trail bridge over a major drainage ditch.
- Management of multiple funding sources, including state and federal grants, which minimized the financial commitment of the county and cities.
Before the JewEllsworth Trail, Hamilton County was home to just two trails—the previously mentioned Jewell Jubilee Trail and the Briggs Woods Trail, a 5.9-mile long trail in Webster City nearly 20 miles away. Furthermore, a lack of sidewalks and narrow roads with limited shoulders made the Jewell transportation system inadequate for walking and biking. The addition of the JewEllsworth Trail fills these voids by providing safe, alternative transportation connections within and between both communities.
Snyder & Associates provided a variety of services for the JewEllsworth Trail including topographic and construction survey, trail alignment, profile design, on-street bike facility design, and grant administration.
Key Component of a Larger Vision
The JewEllsworth Trail is the first complete part of a five-phase grand vision to create the Lake Path Trail. When finished, the Lake Path Trail would be roughly 23-miles in length. The four remaining phases are as follows:
- Phase 2 – Continuing the JewEllsworth trail approximately 1.5-miles south to Little Wall Lake.
- Phase 3 – Extending the corridor to Randall, IA.
- Phase 4 – Extending the corridor to connect Randall and Story City.
- Phase 5 – Extending the corridor to connect Story City with Ada Hayden Heritage Park in Ames.
As Hamilton County Conservation and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation continue to plan future trail phases, Snyder & Associates is available to assist with critical components such as determining the best route, providing concept plans, estimating pre-design construction costs, and writing grants, if desired.