SIOUX CITY | The preferred route for the proposed Plywood Trail will be aired in three community meetings next week in Plymouth County, Iowa.

A consultant with McClure Engineering Co. has worked through three possible Plywood Trail routes to connect existing trails in Le Mars and Sioux City.

McClure Transportation Team Leader Jeff Schug said Tuesday talks with landowners near the proposed trail will continue through Friday, then "we will have a preferred route" to be shared publicly in Feb. 6 and 7 meetings in Le Mars and Hinton.

"There is resistance from owners on all three routes," Schug told the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.

"There is definitely supporters and there are definitely detractors."

Schug said the talks are with landowners who have land near the trail, to see about the outlook for accessing their parcels. He noted agreements must be reached, as Iowa law holds that governmental entities can't use a condemnation process to take control of private land for trails, unlike how that can be done for building roads.

If the trail was to cross private land, it would have to be voluntarily acquired in one of three ways, with the owner either donating it, selling or granting an easement for it.

McClure Engineering in October unveiled the three routes at community meetings in Merrill and Hinton.

The east alignment, also called the River Route, would run along the Floyd River and would be the most picturesque in terms of observing nature.

The Central Route is the most direct route and shortest, routing essentially along U.S. Highway 75. It also would have the least impact on landowners, as most of the property needed could be obtained in rights-of-way from the cities and Iowa Department of Transportation.

The West Route would not run along Highway 75 in the middle miles. It would veer a few miles west, south and then back east along existing county roads from Merrill to Hinton. A trail would be placed along each of those three county road sections.

If chosen, the River Route would not pass directly through Merrill and would require an additional 2.5 miles of trail construction, on top of the previously projected 16 miles of the most central route along Highway 75.

The upcoming one-hour meetings include two on Feb. 6 in Le Mars, at noon at Le Mars City Hall and at 5 p.m. at the Willow Creek Golf Course Banquet Hall. The Feb. 7 meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Hinton Community Center in Hinton.

A final cost projection could come in the meetings, too.

The meetings are designed to keep residents apprised of the trail. Before the October meeting, dozens of people attended a prior round of meetings in August.

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County and education reporter

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