Progress continues on the new multiuse trail along Railroad Highway between Council Bluffs and Underwood. 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 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 (PCTA) 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.”
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, through which preferred routes of multi-use trails were identified through 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 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 Pottawattamie County Supervisors, the cities of Council Bluffs, Underwood, and Neola, and the U.S. National Park Service.