The group working to get bikers and pedestrians off the county's busiest road is holding a fundraiser Saturday night, Jan. 26.
A group of local musicians, Gaelstorm, will perform at the Oaks Steakhouse from 8 p.m. to midnight to benefit Trails From Freeport (TFF). The group is raising money to build a trail from the village of Freeport to the Trout Run Trail behind Walmart. Currently Freeport residents must ride their bikes or walk along busy A-52 to access the Trout Run Trail, which encircles the city of Decorah.
Walmart and Rockwell Collins are located off A-52.
"It's the most heavily trafficked (county) road in Winneshiek County - over 9,000 vehicles a day. If somebody doesn't do something, a bad accident is bound to happen," said TFF Board member Heidi Rockweiler of Freeport.
TFF has applied for several grants to pay for the trail, which is about 1.5 miles long, and in the past five months the group has raised $86,000 in donations. It will cost an estimated $190,000 to dredge the trail and install a lime-screen surface, but ultimately, the group wants the trail to be paved, Rockweiler explained.
"In bad weather, a lime-screen top doesn't work real well," she said.
To pave the section would cost $450,000 to $500,000, according to Rockweiler. She hopes the project will start in the spring, with possible completion this summer.
"To get people off the road would be fantastic. The next step would be to get it paved. We've had a request to continue the trail (north) to Haugen Hummel. We'd love to see it - there are a lot of kids there. That would be another phase," Rockweiler said.
At Monday's Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board unanimously approved having County Engineer Lee Bjerke provide his services "in kind" for the trail development. County funds have not been requested for the project.
According to Bjerke, his involvement will be for any work done in the right of way, which is not a violation of Iowa Code.
While all the TFF Board members live in Freeport, Rockweiler said the trail link would also benefit people traveling to Freeport for work, to the Oneota Golf and Country Club and Wellington Place care and assisted living facility.
"The community response has been great. Everyone has been so receptive to all we've presented so it's nice to see it come together .. It's really taking off," she said.
Since A-52 has a traffic count of 9,800 vehicles per day, Bjerke said he's been concerned as pedestrian and bicycle traffic has increased on the road that has a speed limit of 45 miles per hour.
The second busiest county road is Locust Road, north of Decorah, at 2,000 vehicles per day, Bjerke said. A-52 connects to state Highway 9, which has a traffic count of 14,100 vehicles per day and the county's Old Stage Road which has 7,500 vehicles per day.
Tickets for Saturday's fundraiser are $10 at the door or $8 in advance. They can be purchased at The Oaks, Mabe's, Rubaiyat, Copyland and Weis Buick.
The Oaks will offer dinner specials throughout the night.
Gaelstorm performs classic rock. Band members are local residents Steve Belay, Dylan Hennings, John Shindelar and Doug Wilson.
TFF is planning another fundraiser for Tuesday, Feb. 19. Volunteers will be delivering Mabe's pizza 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. with a percentage of the sales donated to TFF.