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Hoover Trail Milestone

Ely ribbon cutting marks opening of Hoover Trail extension
Pictured are John Harris, Linn County Supervisor; Dan Whitaker, Ely City Council; Eldy Miller, Ely Mayor (wielding scissors); Brandon Whyte, Multimodal Transportation Planner for the Corridor Metro Planning Organization; Paul Fiegen, Past President of Linn County Trails Association and Ely resident.

On Sunday, Oct. 15, representatives from the City of Ely and Linn County gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the recently completed 2-mile section of the bike trail that stretches along Ely Road from the City Hall to Seven Sisters Road.

ELY– Despite brisk wind and cloudy skies, an enthusiastic crowd turned out on Sunday, Oct. 15, to witness a ribbon-cutting to mark the official opening of the recently completed 2-mile section of bike trail that stretches along Ely Road from City Hall to Seven Sisters Road.
Ely Mayor Eldy Miller and City Councilor Dan Whitaker were joined by representatives from Linn County to commemorate the occasion, one of several hi-lighted events that took place at Ely’s 10th Annual Fall Fest.
Mayor Miller said residents of Ely and surrounding communities are excited about the expansion of the bike trail that will eventually provide a safe way to cycle from Cedar Rapids to Ely and down through Solon and North Liberty. Given Ely’s growth and numbers of young families, the bike trail seemed a natural development.
“A lot of people drive Ely Road because 380 is so crazy,” Miller said. “Ely was only 600 people 25-30 years ago,” he noted. “Now it’s 2,200. It’s one of these things that as it grows, we start getting things like parks and bike trails. Ely is one of the youngest towns in the county demographically.”
After the brief ribbon-cutting ceremony, a band of 15-plus bike riders pedaled along the Hoover Trail extension from Ely City Hall to Seven Sisters Road, the border between Linn and Johnson counties.
Randy Burke, Outdoor Recreation Planner for Linn County Conservation Department, greeted riders when they arrived at the end of the newly paved section of the trail. Burke praised the contributions of several entities such as the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), made up of elected officials and appointed representatives of the greater Cedar Rapids area, including Ely.
“This project got started at least 10 or 12 years ago,” said Burke. “The City of Ely has been a great partner. The MPO has also been wonderful to work with. They assisted us in getting the grant. It was a DOT grant. They provided the federal recreation trails money to the MPO. We thank the DOT.
“We appreciate all these partnerships because without it we couldn’t do all these projects,” Burke continued. “These projects are so expensive that you’ve got to have multiple partners to accomplish these things.”
Posted where he stood at the intersection of Ely and Seven Sisters roads, Burke referred to an overview map as he described the next phases of the project to link the trail to Solon and beyond. “In the next two to three years, the project should be completed all the way down to Solon and will hook into the trail down to Lake Macbride,” he explained. “Also, in November, Johnson County is bidding the section on Mehaffey Bridge Road so that part will be done. So in the next three years you should be able to make it all the way to Iowa City.”
Brandon Whyte, Multimodal Transportation Planner at the Corridor MPO, pointed out useful new features of the signage installed along the entirety of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, all the way up to the northern border of Linn County as well as on the Sac and Fox Trail of Cedar Rapids.
“You’ll see here, and you saw one at the half-mile mark, we’ve got mile marker signs,” Whyte said. “You’ve got the logo there and the mile marker, but you’ve also got a phone number. If you’ve got a trail maintenance issue, you can call that in. There’s also a web site that you can type into a smartphone and let us know of any problems.”
The new markers incorporate a safety mechanism as well. “If there’s any sort of emergency… after calling 911, this number (identifies) your exact location down to 10 meters,” Whyte noted. “So you can give that number to emergency responders and they’ll know exactly where you are.”
According to the website of the Linn County Trails Association, the Hoover Trail extension is among the first to benefit from a reallocation of federal gas tax funds for trail development from 2016-20, a key means of support for expanding the recreational trails system in Linn County.
The proposed Ely-Solon trail links with the Linn County portion at Seven Sisters Road and follows the road east to where it begins a southeastern trek along the abandoned railroad right-of-way. The separated trail continues until just north of 140th Street, where the trail splits off to the west, goes under Ely Road and continues south to the intersection with Highway 382. After crossing the west side of the intersection, the trail follows adjacent to Highway 382 until it rejoins the railroad bed just east of Polk Avenue. From there, it travels to the southeast and takes a turn due south to join with the existing Lake Macbride Trail, ending at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area.