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Stay current with our monthly e-newsletter featuring project updates, industry insights, and more.

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Client Name
Dallas County
Client Type
Project Type
Services Provided
  • ADA Compliance Review & Analysis
  • Bicycle & Pedestrian Planning
  • Boundary & Retracement Surveys
  • Bridge Concept & Feasibility Studies
  • Bridge Construction Engineering
  • Bridge Design
  • Construction Administration
  • Construction Observation
  • Construction Staking
  • Environmental Permitting
  • Environmental Studies
  • Funding Assistance
  • Public Engagement & Meeting Facilitation
  • Topographic Survey & Subsurface Utility Engineering
  • Trail Design & Planning
  • Trailhead & Oasis Design
Project Manager
Contact Rich Voelker, PE
Transportation Business Unit Leader

One of the Longest Paved, Recreational Trail Loops in the Nation

This rails-to-trails project involved a 35-mile trail extension of the popular Raccoon River Valley Trail in Dallas and Guthrie Counties. It’s one of the longest paved, recreational trail loops in the nation at 72-miles long and connects 15 communities and four counties. The trail is 10-feet wide and follows a rail-banked corridor.

Trail alignment and profile on an abandoned railroad grade doesn’t typically require much adjustment. However, Dallas County capitalized on the trail construction as an opportunity to adjust the profile of some of their gravel roads.  At many intersections, the roadway profile changed grade drastically to meet the profile of the railroad. This inhibited sight distance, so several intersections were unsafe. Snyder & Associates incorporated flatter roadway profiles into the project, designing the trail profile to meet the improved roadway design.

The Raccoon River Valley Trail Extension project involved three bridge rehabilitations, two box culvert improvements, and one box culvert replacement. Shuck-Britson, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Snyder & Associates, prepared detailed plans to convert these railroad structures for trail use.

Due to funding schedules and local budgets, the extension was split into 10 construction projects to complete 35 miles of additional trail construction.

  • June 2008 — An 894-foot-long bridge and two culverts between the towns of Dawson and Perry
  • April 2009 — 1.77-mile Waukee Trail extension
  • August 2009 — 6.74-mile Dawson to Perry paving
  • September 2009 — 5.34-mile Panora to Yale trail rehab
  • August 2010 — 5.4-mile Dallas Center to Waukee connection
  • September 2010 — .27-mile trail in Minburn
  • September 2011 —  5.59-mile trail connection between Perry and Minburn
  • June 2012 — 5.88-mile trail connection between Minburn and Dallas Center that included a 13-foot long railroad bridge retrofit, which is the smallest retrofit our team has ever done
  • June 2012 — 2-mile trail between Jamaica and Dawson
  • August 2012 — 2-mile trail between Herndon and Jamaica, which included the box culvert replacement

The grand opening of the completed 89 mile trail (including the 72-mile trail loop) was held on June 1, 2013.

Snyder & Associates was the lead design firm on this project. Our team provided land surveying services including preliminary survey, boundary survey, construction staking, and construction observation. Professional trail design services included trail alignment and profile design, and bridge and culvert rehabilitation detailing. Wetland and stream delineation along with 404 permitting assistance, a bat habitat survey, and a categorical exclusion for funding purposes were also provided by our environmental services team.

In conjunction with the design of the project, we provided the order of magnitude of cost opinions for use in funding applications, detailed construction cost opinions for each segment, and obtained the NPDES Permit for the projects on behalf of the county. Coordination with the Iowa DOT was required, as the trail crossed State Highways 44 and 169. Our team also performed a hydrologic and hydraulic analysis of the box culvert to be replaced between Herndon and Jamaica and coordinated with the Iowa DNR and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the submittal of a joint application for the box culvert replacement.

The first three projects were let through the Iowa DOT, using Iowa DOT specifications. We administered local lettings for each of the remaining projects utilizing SUDAS specifications.

Plans to further strengthen Iowa’s vast trail network through the Let’s Connect Trail project are currently underway with Snyder & Associates serving as the lead trail design firm. Once complete, this 9-mile trail segment will link the Raccoon River Valley Trail with the High Trestle Trail between Perry and Woodward. Due to funding, the project is being built in phases. During the summer of 2018, 1.5 miles of the trail were built starting in Perry and working east. Phase 2 starting west of Woodward and working west is planned to begin in 2019.