The Ottumwa Courier

May 3, 2013

Trails Mediathon coming up May 17-18

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Would you like to walk across U.S. Highway 34 West at its intersection with Quincy Avenue?

The Wapello County Trails group believes a lot of people would, and that's why they're hoping the upcoming Wapello County Trails Mediathon will bring in a lot of donations.

The mediathon will be May 17-18.

Kim Hellige, president of the Wapello County Trails Council, says that the group has often discussed pedestrian walkways that would help citizens cross the highway safely.

City leaders are working on the Market Street Bridge and are looking for funding to redo the bridge's deck. Hellige said Joe Helfenberger, the city's administrator, had attended a recent trails meeting and mentioned the city budget wasn't going to include a widened walkway.

Helfenberger decided to seek help from the Trails Council, and then the city and the trails council could team up and talk to Legacy Foundation representatives.

"The city could make the request to Legacy Foundation for the Trails Council, but as an entity, the Trails Council couldn't do it alone," Hellige said.

As an entity, the Trails Council can't be the applicant for the project, and usually the city is the one asking for the funding. Hellige said it's not unusual in trail work for the group to contribute money when needed.

On Thursday, Helfenberger said the city will probably go with Option 3 in the city's presentation about the Market Street Bridge Project. That option will include a decorative sidewalk rail for $160,000; decorative concrete barrier rail, $228,800; decorative square steel handrail, $112,320; and decorative street lights, $88,000.

The total cost of aesthetic features is $580,000, according to Helfenberger.

Hellige said the Market Street bridge will provide an important connection for the north and south sides.

"We feel an 8-foot walkway is essential for the trails system," Hellige said. "The Market Street bridge is a loop across the Des Moines River, so our efforts do support that."

The city plans to do the bridge project in 2014, and the Wapello County Trails Council's contribution is contingent on the 8-foot walkway.

Helfenberger said he's working with the Trails and the Legacy Foundation to make sure the bridge has the "highest aesthetics" and is cost efficient. He noted Wapello County Trails will contribute $40,000 and the Legacy Foundation $350,000.

"We were very successful with grant funding for basic construction," he said. "We'll also have $2.5 million from the state and $700,000 from the city's Capital Improvements fund. We're blessed to have various group who work together."

During the upcoming Trails Mediathon, there will be a Trails Walkathon, Hellige said. The event will be from 10-11:30 a.m. May 18.

"We hope thousands of people will be on the bridge at one time," she said. "We're working with the city to get a permit to do that."

Hellige also noted the Trails Council is actively seeking funds for the underpass, which would be a safe way to cross the highway. Quincy Avenue has no sidewalks but does have lots of traffic.