A federal grant could help extend the Trout Run Trail beyond Freeport.
At Monday's meeting of the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors, Winneshiek County Conservation Director Barb Schroeder told the supervisors she recently sent in a grant application on behalf of the county for a Department of Transportation TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant.
Trails From Freeport (TFF) has been working for the past three years to extend the Trout Run Trail from Decorah to Freeport. The group's goal has been to extend the Trout Run Trail as far as Freeport Park. Schroeder explained if the TIGER grant is received, the trail would actually be extended north, all the way past the Haugen Hummel subdivision on River Rd.
Schroeder said the grant, which totals more than $1.6 million, would recreate 2.36 miles of River Rd. as a two-lane roadway from Moellers Dr. to Drake Hill Rd. and establish 2.52 miles of 10-feet wide, hot mix asphalt trail.
"A lot of information from the previous grant was used," said Schroeder, referring to a grant Winneshiek County applied for during the last round of funding. While no organization in the state of Iowa received TIGER IV funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the application submitted for the "Freeport to Decorah" trail spur was among the highest-scoring applications the DOT received from Iowa.
Schroeder said the grant application included mounting safety concerns and traffic numbers for that stretch of road along A6W (which travels past Walmart).
"That stretch of road has the highest vehicle count of any road outside the city limits in the county," added Winneshiek County Auditor Ben Steines.
Schroeder told the supervisors she thinks the project has a good chance for funding because it is "shovel ready."
Schroeder explained the total cost of the project would be $2,202,000: $1,651,75 from the TIGER V grant, $360,525 from Winneshiek County and $190,000 from TFF.
"We will find out in October or November at the earliest," said Schroeder, adding the county would have one year from the time it was awarded the grant to complete the project.
"As soon as we get the go-ahead, Lee (County Engineer Lee Bjerke) will get together the engineering information," said Schroeder.
Schroeder said the Freeport Trail link could ultimately become part of a regional trail project, which could ultimately travel toward the Mississippi.
Schroeder said applying for the grant is like, "buying a lottery ticket ... in a nationwide competition, you find out how well you stack up."
TFF Board Member Heidi Rockweiler said TFF has raised close to $127,000 to date.
Rockweiler said she appreciates the effort the county is putting forth to help with the trail extension to Freeport.
She said it is important, especially for children who reside in the Haugen Hummel subdivision, to be able to bike safely into town for activities.
"Even if we don't get the grant, every bit of money we raise will still go toward the trail. This grant would just double the length of the trail," she said.
Tax-deductible donations to the Freeport Trail project can be made by sending a check payable to Northeast Iowa RC&D to Trails from Freeport Fund, PO Box 125, Decorah, IA 52101.
The group also is collecting redeemable cans at Freeport Park until Thursday, July 11.