The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 15, 2014

Supervisors give thumbs up to trail tunnel

OTTUMWA — One more government entity has signed on to support the development and construction of a pedestrian trail corridor under Highway 34.

Tuesday morning, Wapello County Board of Supervisors not only gave its OK but also committed $1,000 to support the underground tunnel, estimated to cost about $726,237.

It is the desire of the Wapello County Trails Council to create a connection that avoids a crosswalk at grade on a four-lane major highway system (Highway 34) in south Ottumwa.

Vision Iowa helps assist community projects that will provide recreational, cultural, entertainment and educational attractions. Projects must be available to the general public for public use and be primarily vertical infrastructure. The attractions must position a community to take advantage of economic development opportunities in tourism and strengthen a community’s competitiveness as a place to work and live.

The grant the Wapello County Trails Council is applying for a $350,000 Community Action and Tourism (CAT) grant administered by Vision Iowa. The trails council also will provide an additional $120,000 in funding as well as $260,000 from the Legacy Foundation.

The city of Ottumwa, in turn, will provide in-kind services including the letting of the project, inspection and contract management. Once it is completed, the city would become the owner of the tunnel and be responsible for maintenance.

Supervisor Greg Kenning acknowledged there needs to better way of crossing Highway 34 than a regular crosswalk. “You have to be spry to get across the highway now,” he said. “That area has a high volume of traffic all day long.”

“I’m voting for it (the letter of support),” said Supervisor Jerry Parker. “But you could have paved an awful lot of trails with $600,000. But they (Wapello County Trails Committee) want to do it, and it’s a good project.”

Supervisor Steve Siegel concurred. “It has a good purpose, and everyone on the tails committee sees this as a top priority.”

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