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Whether for Recreation or Alternative Transportation, Bike Trail a Good Idea


Iowa City Press-Citizen

May 2, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Press-Citizen, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

At a time when gas prices are soaring, we're excited about the possibility of a bicycle trail linking Iowa City and Cedar Rapids ("Officials discuss trail linking C.R., Iowa City," April 28). The plans are still in the preliminary stages, but either of the two proposed routes would benefit people seeking either a day's entertainment or cost-effective transportation alternatives.

Bikers looking for a direct route between the cities would probably prefer the option that starts in Iowa City, runs through North Liberty along Highway 965 and ends in Cedar Rapids. But a more scenic route along the old Rock Island Railroad, also known as the Hoover Nature Trail, would allow bikers to pass through Solon and Ely as well.

The second, more meandering option seems more in keeping with the successful Root River Trail system in southeastern Minnesota. In the 1980s, many of the smaller towns along the Milwaukee Railroad fell upon hard times after railroad pulled out. After the state built a 60-mile trail system linking the towns, however, suddenly more than $25 million in tourist dollars began being poured into the local economies annually. Cities like Lanesboro, Minn., have transformed from near-ghost towns into prime tourist destinations.

Although the North Corridor doesn't have the same breathtaking scenery as along the Root River, a trail system would open up a host of opportunities. We urge our city leaders, corridor supporters and state legislators to work seriously on transforming this dream into a workable and affordable plan.