New Bridge Restores Cedar Valley Nature Trail

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SADDLE UP AND RIDE – There was plenty to celebrate at McFarlane Park on Saturday, May 4, as the dedication of the new bridge spanning the Cedar River signalled the restoration of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. Record flooding in 2008 resulted in the destruction of the original bridge built in 1912. U.S. Representative Bruce Braley  was joined by a host of dignitaries for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

For riders of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, the wait is finally over. When the Great Flood of 2008 damaged two long-standing bridges over the Cedar River, one at Evansdale, the other near La Porte City at McFarlane Park, the long road to recovery meant finding millions of dollars to replace the structures that were nearly 100 years old.

After four long years, that road was finally reopened, as a “Bridge 2 Bridge” event at McFarlane Park celebrated the dedication of the new trail bridge, whose construction was completed late last year. With the reopening of the bridge, nature trail enthusiasts have access to the complete trail that spans the 52 mile distance from Hiawatha to Evansdale.

The original bridge near McFarlane Park was constructed in 1912-13 by the Gould Construction Company for use as part of the Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Northern Railway (WCF&N). The McFarlane Bridge was the largest of the concrete arch bridges built for the railway at that time. It continued to serve that purpose until it was aboandoned in 1973.

By 1984, the bridge, along with the former rail line, was converted and developed into the Cedar Valley Nature Trail as part of the American Discovery Trail System.

Record flooding in 2008 damaged both the McFarlane and Evansdale  concrete bridges  beyond repair. Reconstruction of the Evansdale bridge was completed first. The McFarlane bridge, at a cost of around $3 million, was completed late last year. The new bridge sits at a higher elevation and its unique, t-pier design restricts less water flowing under it, which makes it a much safer structure during high water events.

 

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