Evansdale bike bridge officially open - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Evansdale bike bridge officially open

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EVANSDALE (KWWL) -

A new bridge across the Cedar River in Evansdale looks to be a popular destination for cyclists and hikers.  The old bridge across the river was wiped out by the floods of 2008.  And the new bridge promises to draw in more tourists, by building upon the Cedar Valley's existing trails.

Dick Dewater loves to bicycle through his hometown of Evansdale.  But for the past three years, an important community link created by the bike bridge has been missing.  Now that it's back, he'll be riding the loop more often.

"It's a beautiful bridge.  Really the link for me is from here to Gilbertville," said Dewater.

But this bridge is also a stepping stone in reconnecting the entire Cedar Valley Nature Trail, from Black Hawk County to Cedar Rapids.  And it's expected to draw some 100,000 cyclist and hikers each year.

"There's an economic impact, there's a recreational impact.  Put those two things together, and I think it was money well spent," said Vern Fish with the Black Hawk County Conservation Board.

Getting the bridge built hasn't been without its worries:  first in securing the needed $1.8 million in FEMA funding, and second…

Early in the bridge rebuild process, some folks expressed concerns about building any new structure right in the Cedar River, and the potential impact that could have on future flooding.  But the Black Hawk County Conservation Board feels confident that by raising the new bridge up 8 feet from where the old bridge once stood, that won't be an issue.

"Our design people, the hydrologists, have made it very clear that this bridge will back up less water.  So it's actually going to make it better," said Fish.

So with those fears set aside, the community can now enjoy the sweeping Cedar River views as they cross the brand new bicycle bridge.

The Cedar Valley Nature Trail's connection from Black Hawk to Linn County will be complete with a second bike bridge at McFarland Park.  But construction on that bridge is being held up until all the needed funding can be secured.

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