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Hoover Trail construction gets underway

Contractors will have to negotiate sensitive areas

SOLON– Everyone’s excited to see the Hoover Trail completed.
But it’s going to be a difficult project for contractors, who gathered at Solon City Hall for a preconstruction meeting Friday, Feb. 23.
Work on the first two phases of a 5.8-mile missing trail link between Ely and Solon has commenced with the third and final phase expected in 2019.
Peterson Contractors Inc. (PCI), awarded the contract for the first two phases of the Hoover Trail with a bid of $2,500,716.74, has also been selected for the construction of a separated trail between Mehaffey Bridge and the North Liberty city limits.
Representatives of contractors, subcontractors, utilities, Johnson County and the City of Solon packed into the council chambers to discuss the staging of the construction, scheduled for completion Sept. 19.
“There’s are a lot of areas on this trail that are environmentally sensitive,” noted Project Manager and Senior Engineer Mark Rooney of McClure Engineering.
Crews will contend with limited access to certain portions of the trail route, and be mindful of vehicle and pedestrian traffic at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area (SRNA), where the trailhead will be located.
“Once we get into construction phase, we’re going to have to work very closely on timeline and schedule with the City of Solon,” said Johnson County Conservation Program Manager Brad Friedhof, who moderated most of the pre-construction meeting. “I don’t want equipment staged there or any materials left in that parking lot. They need that space for their activities.”
In many places, contractors will be restricted to a 40-foot corridor, backing larger vehicles down lengthy stretches to work sites.
“It’s tight,” Friedhof said. “But we’re going to make it work.”
Clearing the route of existing vegetation was expected to start Feb. 27, he said.
In the first phase, between the SRNA trailhead and Highway 382 near Polk Avenue, the trail will also go through soft and wet areas, as well as areas the county would like to protect.
“We have a lot of eyes in Johnson County on this,” Friedhof said.
The route goes from the trailhead west, next to the existing Lake Macbride Trail, for about a third of a mile. It then veers northwest, on a railroad bed just east of Polk Avenue, to Highway 382.
“Through this area we’ve got a lot of native prairie and oak tress,” Friedhof said, referring to the area between the Gaddis Pond and Highway 382. “There are some trees we want salvaged.”
The area is also a wetland, full of native plant communities, he said.
“If trails were easy, they’d be all over the place,” Friedhof added.
Phase II will offer much better access because it follows the abandoned railroad bed or Ely Road. Picking up from the Linn/Johnson county line, the trail follows Seven Sisters Road to the railroad bed, then heads southeast to the point where it crosses under Ely Road, a few hundred yards north of 140th Street NE. The underpass will be closed when flooded, with an at-grade crossing opened only at those times.
An at-grade crossing will also occur at the Ely Road and Highway 382 roundabout as part of the final phase.
That part fills the gap, last because it aligns the most with Ely Road, which will be the subject of extensive reconstruction by the Johnson County Secondary Roads Department. When completed, a portion of the roadbed will be raised to mitigate flood events and paved shoulders will be added.
Along with a 10-foot paved trail and shoulders, the overall project includes a number of additional amenities and infrastructure improvements. The hard surface will have a 10-ton capacity to allow access for maintenance and utilities.

Look for work on SRNA trail head in July

There are three major bridges included in the project– one spanning Mill Creek, outside of Solon, one over Lingle Creek and one over an unnamed creek, near Ely. All three will be replaced with pre-constructed spans which will be lifted into place.
With both the Lingle and Mill Creek bridges, the existing abutments will be removed and the streams will be opened up.
The proposed trail also features other amenities, including a short spur which will connect the trail to the Atherton Wetland (just south of 120th Street NE), and wayside parks to be placed in an area shaded by pine trees just north of 140th Street and along the Gaddis Pond property purchased by the Conservation department. The trailhead at Solon will receive some special attention, with way-finding information and trail rules displayed.