Iowa Trails 2000

Executive Summary
Chapter 1: Introduction

Iowa Trails 2000 provides an array of resources which can be used by state agencies and local and regional governments during trail planning and implementation. Iowa Trails 2000 is a resource document designed to assist all trail developers in achieving the vision of an interconnected, multi-modal, easily accessible statewide trails system. Iowa Trails 2000:

  • Provides a framework for the implementation of the statewide trails vision.
  • Sets forth guidance for subsequent trails system planning by a variety of agencies and jurisdictions.
  • Offers valuable resources to trail developers, which can be used to implement either mode-specific or regional trails plans.
  • Provides local communities an understanding of the benefits of trails, a valuable tool for local trail planning and development efforts.
  • Establishes design guidelines for all trail modes, to encourage consistency in quality and design of trails statewide.
  • Considers the benefits of trails as both recreation and transportation amenities.

The statewide trails vision set forth in this document will be implemented by state, regional, and local efforts. By setting forth a variety of guidelines and policies and including a statewide vision map, Iowa Trails 2000 encourages and facilitates the implementation of trails in a variety of ways.

Chapter 2: Needs and Benefits

Iowa Trails 2000 examines recent national and local trail use surveys and takes an in-depth look at the various benefits of trails. The health, recreation, transportation, natural, economic, and safety benefits of trails are examined.

Chapter 3: The Statewide Trails Vision

The Statewide Trails Vision is a basis for trail implementation in Iowa. The ultimate goal is to connect communities, parks, natural resources, shopping, employment, and other amenities with a comprehensive, multi-modal, easily accessible trails system. All trails developed in Iowa, by state agencies, cities, local groups, county conservation boards, or others, are a part of the statewide trails vision. The corridors shown on the Statewide Trails Vision Map are those that offer connections across the state, to other states, or from region to region.

The Statewide Trails Vision Map is based on an extensive statewide inventory, and proposes 4,908 miles of trails, approximately 517 miles of which are existing.

Chapter 4: Design Guidelines

Iowa Trails 2000 sets forth guidelines for trail placement and design for each of the user modes considered. These guidelines are based on accepted national and state standards, and will ensure the consistency, quality, and longevity of the statewide trails vision.

Chapter 5: Cost Analysis

Iowa Trails 2000 includes costing information as a resource for trail developers. The document provides estimated costs (in year 2000 dollars) for the following items:

  • Unit costs for elements associated with trail development.
  • Inflation effects.
  • Right-of-way acquisition.
  • Bridges.
  • Per-mile costs for each trail type.
  • Five scenarios for the cost of the entire statewide trails vision.
Chapter 6: Implementing the Vision

The statewide trails vision proposed by Iowa Trails 2000 will be implemented as a cooperative effort between state agencies and regional and local governments. Iowa Trails 2000 describes resources for trail developers at all levels of government, including:

  • A list of action items to be performed on an ongoing basis, which will direct the implementation of the statewide trails vision.
  • A description of the roles and responsibilities of each agency or group involved in the implementation of the vision.
  • Recommendations for involving the public, garnering support, and converting the opposition.
  • An overview of the planning and development process for specific trails projects.
  • A list of funding sources for trails development.
Chapter 7: Operations and Maintenance

The longevity and usability of the statewide trails vision depends on the ongoing operations and maintenance of completed trail projects. Iowa Trails 2000 gives an overview of recommended maintenance activities, estimated costs of those activities, and potential funding sources.

Chapter 8: Recommendations

Iowa Trails 2000 makes the following recommendations for accomplishing the statewide trails vision.

Increase funding for trail projects
A major issue that stymies increased trail development is funding. Existing funding should be increased, and additional funding sources and innovative financing mechanisms should be explored.

Establish a Trails Advisory Group
A small group representing trail owners, funders, and user groups should be convened regularly to consider current development practices and strive to improve their effectiveness.

Increase rate of trail development
At the current rate of trail development in Iowa, the statewide trails vision set forth in Iowa Trails 2000 would take approximately 56 years to complete. This time frame should be, at least, cut in half.

More proactive role by state agencies
The DOT and other state agencies should increase their direct involvement in trails projects, in part to resolve the dilemma of the lack of funding in some regions of the state. Legislative changes may be needed in order to accomplish this goal.

Subsequent trails system planning
The statewide trails vision is a starting point for further trails planning. Trails in Iowa will be developed by local governments and by state agencies. System plans, both on a statewide and a local level, are the backbone of the statewide trails vision.

Bicycle and pedestrian accommodation
The DOT has recently adopted a bicycle/pedestrian accommodation guidance for state roads and highways. Local jurisdictions, namely counties and cities, should consider developing similar policies for their roadways.