2017 TSTV Membership Drive

by Michael Loebach

 

Spring’s arrival indicates that not only are the robins back, but so is Tri-State Trail Vision and its membership drive. Consider what your membership will do to enhance trail opportunities within the Dubuque area. You have probably already seen our emails and maybe even received a letter in the mail. Maintaining a strong membership is critical to the success of this all-volunteer organization. Benefits include a newsletter that comes out three times per year, advocacy by board members to various governmental agencies, and connections with community leaders who support trails in the Dubuque area.

Please send $15 for a single or $25 for a family membership along with your name, address, phone, and email address to: Tri-State Trail Vision, Treasurer, 790 Valentine, Dubuque, IA 52003.

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Categories: ADVOCACY, Membership/Fundraising | Leave a comment

Bike to Work Week May 15-17, 2017

 

     Rolling right around the corner is Bike To Work Week. This nationwide effort encourages everyone to walk or ride a bike to work during the week of May 15-19. Endorsed by Tri-State Trail Vision, the Dubuque Bike Coop leads the initiative with several events. On Saturday, May 13, a tour around Dubuque will be the warm-up ride, so to speak. This begins at the Bike Coop at 22nd and Central. A couple more rides are planned during weekday evenings, and the week will wrap up and share the spotlight with DubuqueFest activities at the Town Clock Plaza. Register at http://www.tinyurl.com/DBQBTWW2017. The Bike Coop’s goal this year is to get 300 riders to commit to 1-5 days of walking or riding. Updated information can be found on the Dubuque Bike Coop’s Facebook page. Get out and get healthy!

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Charlie Winterwood as New Tri-State Trail Vision President; Thanks to outgoing President Tony Zelinskas

By Dianne Koch

Tri-State Trail Vision welcomes long-time Vice President Charlie Winterwood as its new President in January elections. Winterwood is active in many nature-oriented groups, such as the Audubon Society, Friends of Mines of Spain, and Friends of Dubuque County Conservation Board.

Winterwood replaces long-time President Tony Zelinskas. Since 2010, Zelinskas tirelessly advocated for trail initiatives. He wrote many letters to area leaders to encourage funding or expansion of proposed trail projects. He penned advocacy letters, supporting city and county grant applications. His work with TSTV included viewing the larger picture, and he often shared his engineering expertise to answer questions on procedures and techniques used for trail building with the TSTV Board. His company built the Hwy 52 Heritage Trail Overpass project, and he was a key figure in its development. Zelinskas regularly attended the Iowa Bike Summit conferences in Des Moines and pushed the City Council to adopt the Complete Streets Initiative. He also oversaw the first Bike-to-Work-Week efforts in Dubuque several years ago, which continues today. TSTV owes much to Zelinskas, and we are in his debt. A sincere thank you goes to Tony for his commitment and loyalty to our cause.

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Asbury’s Cloie Creek Mountain Bike Trail Opening Soon

By Brett Erthum

 

The Cloie Creek Park trail in Asbury is nearing completion and is fully funded.  Trail Source from Minneapolis, MN and a member of the Professional Trail Builders Association has been contracted to do the work.  They are currently waiting for soil conditions to be acceptable for shaping, then they will start.  The project is expected to take 4 weeks to finish.

The Tri-State Mountain Bike Riders (TMBR) is planning to host a ribbon cutting ceremony in May.  The date has yet to be determined.  When open, Cloie Creek will be the first public area open to off-road cycling.  It will incorporate banked turns, berms, and other features that will distinguish it from other trails in eastern Iowa.

We are pleased to have this trail in the city of Asbury.  Its urban location makes it especially accessible to younger enthusiasts.  TMBR plans to work with the City of Asbury to support programs that encourage kids to ride.

TMBR is working through details on a future project for ’17-’18.  An announcement will be coming shortly.  TMBR will soon be providing trail status reports for Heritage Trail on our website.  Check for that functionality at tmbrtrails.org and check our Facebook Page (TMBR) for current information.

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Bee Branch Creek Restoration Project and Trail Update

By Kristin Hill

Construction of the Upper Bee Branch Creek Restoration Project started in June 2015. The project required a lot of excavation, relocation of utilities, and construction. The creek channel is now finished and fully functional. This spring, crews will complete the remaining construction and landscaping. The City plans to host a ribbon cutting and community celebration on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. More details will be shared as plans for the event are finalized.

Amenities along the newly restored creek include the E. 24th St. overlook, a play area with slides, an outdoor classroom/amphitheater, the E. 22nd St. spillway, and a multi-use trail system that connects to the Heritage Trail and Mississippi River Trail (MRT). There is a street-level trail and a trail that runs along the edge of the creek, which passes underneath the E. 22nd St. and Rhomberg Ave. bridges. The trail system was designed to loop around the creek, which stretches from E. 24th St. to Garfield Ave. This loop is approximately one mile.

The on-street route from the Upper Bee Branch Creek to the Lower Bee Branch Creek will be Garfield Ave., to Pine St., to E. 19th St., to Washington St. When you turn east off Washington St. onto E. 16th St. and cross the railroad tracks you will find yourself at the Lower Bee Branch Creek.

The Lower Bee Branch trail runs along the creek and detention basin up to Kerper Blvd. (behind Dairy Queen and Fazoli’s). A portion of the trail closed in February 2016 for the construction of a new overlook. It re-opened this spring, while the overlook and adjacent parking lot are expected to open in June 2017. Until then, the City recommends trail users park on E. 15th St. or Sycamore St.

Improvements associated with the Lower Basin Overlook include a plaza, an open-air pavilion, drinking fountain, bike racks, trash receptacles, benches, lighting, and landscaping. Over the next five years, the City is looking to continue the Lower Bee Branch Trail around the detention basin and extend it over 12th St. and 11th St. to the Intermodal Transportation Center.

To sign up for Bee Branch Project-related email and/or text alerts, including information on the ribbon cutting on July 19, visit www.cityofdubuque.org/notifyme.

 

Categories: ADVOCACY, Partnerships, Walking/Hiking | Leave a comment

An Illinois Summer Bike Ride from Hanover to Savanna: Complete with Hills, Valleys, Ridgetops, Prairies, a River, and a Trail

By Dianne Koch

Checking out more Illinois roads became an obsession as I reflected on past trips. I wanted to discover more: more diverse landscapes, more fields, more parks, and more riverside trails. Illinois can offer much in a mere 50 miles. Traveling some familiar roads as well as new roads is always an adventure, so today’s destination was a trek from Hanover to Savanna.

We park in Hanover, and Kevin and I take off on an overcast summer morning, heading east on West Hanover Road. A long uphill greets us, but the top of the hill welcomes us with the beautiful grounds surrounding the Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery. We do not stop, but it is definitely on the list of places to visit soon. West Hanover Road levels off and then descends through a pretty valley. The level flats are welcome, but another hill brings us to South Derinda Road. We have logged on six scenic miles at this point. Taking a right, we pass the picturesque Trinity Lutheran Church and Cemetery as we pass into the Derinda Valley. Eventually we climb up to the East Albrecht Road junction but stay on South Derinda Road, heading south to Savanna. Now on a ridge top, the winding road lets us float along easily. The road’s name changes to Scenic Ridge Road, aptly named as the Mississippi River Valley bluffs appear on our right. Eventually we pass the eastern edge of Mississippi Palisades State Park and several small parking lots with trailheads. A final descent takes us into Savanna as we take a left on 4th Street, a descent that brings us literally to downtown Savanna. Here we discover a Subway and eat lunch. We have logged 20 miles at this point, and we discover that the Great River Trail, a former rail trail, is just across the highway. So we decide to check out a another landscape for a while.

Here, we trade the ridge tops and hills for the river marshes and views. The arched bridge, a quarter mile in length, goes over the Savanna train tracks. The ride along Spring Lake is impressive and scenic despite the cloudy day. Another mile or so further down the trail is a parking lot of the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. A hiking trail on top of Spring Lake’s dikes allows for an immersive experience to see (and hear) the songbirds and waterfowl. We continue biking through woods, a prairie, another woods, and finally an open prairie trail that takes us to the Wildlife and Fish Refuge’s Visitor’s Center. We stop in to ask about the migratory birds and plan to make a visit in a couple of months. Another mile or so down the road, we turn around since we have a return trip of 26 miles (and a few hills) staring at us. So the Great River Trail takes us back to Savanna and we follow the same roads back for a total of 52 miles.

Who could guess that so many landscapes could be within such a small area? Despite the overcast day, it made for cool, pleasurable riding and lots of memorable scenery.

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Grandview-Delhi Roundabout

Drivers and bikers are adjusting to the newest traffic experience in Dubuque, the Grandview/Delhi Roundabout. Dubuque drivers, bikers, and pedestrians are now learning how to safely negotiate its first roundabout. When school opened, several Washington Middle School faculty and community officers assisted in the training and observation for the first few weeks.

Pedestrians cross on marked lanes that are set back from the actual intersection. Bikers may use either the pedestrian crosswalks by walking their bikes or riding through the driving lanes as a car would. While we are still in the learning curve stage (pun intended), most bicyclists tend to use the traffic lanes and seem to enjoy the efficiency and safety of the roundabout. All traffic must heed pedestrian traffic as always. Vehicles, including bikes, wishing to enter the roundabout must yield to vehicles already in the circle and then proceed when an opening occurs.

At the old intersection’s configuration, bikers needed to check all of the other lanes, which was tricky for bicyclists. Eye contact needed to be made with all drivers simultaneously. Often impatient drivers took their turns out of order, causing dangerous situations. Now with the roundabout, eye contact can be made with each driver individually and in order. A second problem with the old intersection was that riders traveling south had to negotiate a stop on the Grandview uphill, making it difficult to get started from a dead stop. Now with the roundabout, no stop is needed at all if the roundabout is clear. If riders need to stop, they have a more level spot at the top.

The City of Dubuque’s website concerning roundabouts (http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/roundabouts/qanda) shows impressive statistics. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety cites a series of studies from 2004 that show a 72-80% reduction in injury crashes and a 35-47% reduction in all crashes for U. S. roundabouts.

Caution still must be practiced but this improvement will create safer options for pedestrians and bikers. In fact, the reception has been so positive, city leaders are moving ahead to create another roundabout at the North Grandview and University intersection for next summer. When the East-West Corridor project, another University Avenue reconstruction project further west of Grandview, is finished, there will be three more roundabouts on University.

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Safer Biking with the Bike Boulevards Concept

Bike Boulevards are a new concept where streets with less traffic are “optimized” for bicycle usage. Often speed bumps, traffic circles, or medians assist in the slowing of the traffic so that riders will have a less stressful riding experience. These opportunities are great for those who fear the higher speed traffic of faster roads. Furthermore, on the bike boulevards, motorists are visually reminded that bikers and pedestrians use the road via intersection markings for increased safety. Bike boulevards are marked with the bike symbol and “BLVD.” Motorists would be reminded of bikers’ right-of-way and encouraged to be patient with riders. Minneapolis and Madison utilize this concept successfully. Canada, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands also use this concept.

City Engineer Jon Dienst asked Tri-State Trail Vision members recently to help city personnel identify Dubuque streets that might qualify. Streets should be of a fairly level grade, be quieter, contain less traffic, and be accessible to children and families. Suggestions included Lincoln Avenue, Garfield, Iowa Street on Farmers’ Market Day, West Locust to Almond, Avoca to Delaware to Atlantic to University, and the Mount Loretta–Rush-Cleveland area. Any further suggestions can be sent to Jon Dienst at jdienst@cityofdubuque.org.

The following websites convey more information concerning Bike Boulevards: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/bicycles/WCMS1P-083259 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_boulevard .

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New Hiking Trails at Swiss Valley and Mines of Spain …..thanks to Eagle Scouts and park managers

Several young men have completed Eagle Scout projects for Swiss Valley and the Mines of Spain. So check out these projects the next time you are on a hike.

At Swiss Valley, the High Ridge Trail is two years old and explores a ridge top prairie. Where the High Ridge Trail converges back into the woods, Eagle Scout Wyatt Burger from Key West completed a hardwood forest planting. Although small yet and hidden by the annual weeds at the moment, these trees will grow and add to the hardwood population.

Meanwhile at the Mines of Spain, several scouts were recognized at a recent appreciation dinner for Mines of Spain volunteers. The scouts included Kevin Chase, savanna restoration; Kyle Chase, trail improvement; Griffith Apgar, sign and fence improvement; Luke Connolly, savanna restoration and benches; Matthew Barton, new trail creation; and Mitchell Allen, new maintenance trail.

Thanks to all these students for improving tri-state hiking options.

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Join the Iowa Bicycle Coalition

Consider joining the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, based in Iowa City, which advocates for safe riding, building trail networks, publishing online routes, and lobbies for stronger laws to protect all riders. Individual memberships start at $35 per year. Check out this organization and all the good advocacy work they do at iowabicyclecoalition.org.

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