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 Editor’s note: With the closing of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail bridge that spans Wolf Creek in La Porte City, Black Hawk County Conservation is, once again, seeking a way to restore continuity to the trail. The following essay has been submitted in support of a grant Black Hawk County Conservation is seeking to help fund a plan to bypass the bridge altogether, realigning the trail through La Porte City’s business district. -MW

“La Porte City, Iowa: Closed”
That was the headline on the front page of The Progress Review on June 18, 2008, after record setting floodwaters had blocked all paths in and out of La Porte City, with the exception of one gravel road. As La Porte City’s weekly newspaper, we reported on the widespread carnage the Great Flood of 2008 inflicted on area businesses and homes.
Some of the most disturbing images of flood damage we captured during that time were of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. Two bridges spanning the Cedar River, one in Evansdale, the other near La Porte City at McFarlane Park, were a total loss. Like so many communities in Eastern Iowa, the effort to restore the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, which runs south from Cedar Falls to Hiawatha, was years in the making at a cost of millions of dollars. Finally, on May 8, 2013, a new front page headline could be written: “Trail Bridge: Ready for Riding.”
Two years later, the unforseen rapid decay of another trail bridge, this one spanning Wolf Creek in La Porte City has, once again, interrupted the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, and with it, the path that links our community to trail users north of our city. While none of the several options to restore trail access are cheap, realigning the trail to Main Street in La Porte City is the most cost effective. It is also the solution that makes the most sense for both trail users and downtown La Porte City merchants.
Altering the trail’s route into La Porte City will give trail users direct access to services that are otherwise sparsely interspaced over a 25 mile stretch between Gilbertville and Urbana. Previously, the trail’s route through La Porte City skirted residential neighborhoods along the edge of town. Shifting the path of the trail to Main Street gives users access to convenience stores, restaurants and other services not available on the trail for several miles in both directions. The resulting traffic will no doubt have economic benefits for local merchants, as well.
As a local business owner and the primary media outlet in La Porte City, we enthusiastically support Black Hawk County Conservation’s effort to seek a long-term solution to restore Cedar Valley Nature Trail access through our community, and in particular, to reroute the trail into town as proposed using a portion of Main Street. As we continue to cover this story and its impact on the surrounding community, we look forward to the day when a new headline can be written, one that celebrates the restoration of the trail for the benefit of all.

Mike and Jane Whittlesey, Publishers