A gap in the Cedar Valley Nature Trail has the Black Hawk County Conservation Board and the City Council of La Porte City searching for a solution to make the trail whole once again. At issue is the bridge identified as Bridge L3, which spans Wolf Creek in La Porte City. Earlier this year, a scheduled inspection revealed serious structural decay in some of the support timbers, prompting the restriction of all motorized traffic on the bridge. In September, the bridge was closed to all traffic after a follow-up inspection revealed additional decay that prevented the determination of the bridge’s load capacity.
The gap created by the closure of the bridge prevents access to La Porte City from the north by nature trail hikers and bikers. Likewise, trail users in La Porte City have discovered that a trip north abruptly ends at the gazebo.
At a meeting last month in La Porte City, the Black Hawk County Conservation Board presented four options to resolve the issue, along with preliminary cost estimates. At this time, it is unclear where the revenue to fund any of the solutions offered can be found.
The first option is a short-term repair, which is expected to extend the life of the bridge 5-10 years, at a cost of $1.34 million. A long-term repair, adding 30-50 years to the lifespan of the bridge, comes with an estimated 1.49 million price tag. The cost to totally replace the bridge, the third option presented, is estimated to cost 2.39 million. The fourth option to be considered is a realignment of the trail, which would by-pass the bridge altogether. Such an option has an unknown cost at this time, as a realignment of the trail would involve routing it through privately owned property.
The consensus of the County Conservation Board is to continue studying the possibility of realigning the trail and the costs associated with moving it in a new direction. The proximity of U.S. Highway 218 to the trail as it enters city limits from the north is one of the major concerns, as officials look for the most cost efficient way to restore the integrity of the trail in a manner that protects the safety of its users.