Construction continues on Pottawattamie County's trail system

This bridge over Mosquito Creek just south of Weston was completed recently as part of a multi-use trail from Council Bluffs to Underwood and eventually to Neola. The Iowa West Foundation has approved a grant for artwork that will be created by a local artist for this bridge.

Two bridges over Mosquito Creek were completed this fall, helping link the paved trail to Weston, then Underwood and Neola over the next few years.

This most recent progress follows completion of the first section of trail from Smith Wildlife Area to County Road L34 which opened in late Summer 2018. The city of Council Bluffs extended a city trail to the Smith Wildlife Area.

“The new bridges are a crucial part of our countywide trail system. Despite some unanticipated delays, we’re excited to see it moving forward,” Pottawattamie County Trails Association Board President Courtney Harter said.

“This trail will connect Council Bluffs with multiple small towns in Pottawattamie County and ultimately with other communities across southwest Iowa.”

Harter said the first four miles of the trail is now completed to a point just south of Weston, and plans are to continue contruction of the trail to Underwood next year, weather permitting. Construction this year was slowed by weather.

With nearly 20 miles of trail planned over the coming years, PCTA is getting closer to realizing its goal of creating a countywide loop for cyclists, runners and walkers.

Eventually, trails in Pottawattamie County will connect with those being developed in neighboring counties through the Frontier Iowa Trails network, with the ultimate goal of a contiguous trail network linking southwestern Iowa with central Iowa, eastern Nebraska, and beyond.

Formal planning for the Pottawattamie County trails system began in 2012. Preferred routes for multi-use trails were identified through input at public meetings and with aid from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program.

In conjunction with Pottawattamie County Conservation, PCTA has secured grants and donations to fund development, construction and maintenance of trails throughout the county.

The Iowa West Foundation committed $1.1 million through a “Trails Initiative” and has another $1.1 million identified to supplement matching grants for construction and planning efforts.

Additional funding sources include federal and state recreational funds, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Resource Enhancement and Protection program and private contributions.

Other key partners include the Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors; the cities of Council Bluffs, Underwood and Neola; and the U.S. National Park Service.

PCTA always welcomes volunteers and donations. For more information, visit pottcountytrails.com or PCTA Facebook page, “Pottawattamie County Trails Association.”

Harter said the trail will ultimately be owned by Pottawattamie County and managed by the Pottawattamie County Conservation Commission.

“We’re not as far as we had hoped to be at this point,” Harter said, “but progress on the project was slowed by the weather this year.”

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