In light of two significant new developments this summer, we return today to a favorite topic - our metro region's growing network of trails.

In July:

- The City Council approved the low bid of $1.23 million from Dixon Construction Co. of Correctionville, Iowa, to build a connection between the Floyd and Outer Drive Trails.

This .43-mile trail, which will begin sometime this year, is primarily an overpass bridge over railroad tracks with a small trail segment from the current Floyd Trail to the corner of Outer Drive.

"This is one of the most crucial trail connections that we have in our city," Parks and Reaction Director Matt Salvatore said in a July 10 Journal story. "The project is long overdue."

- The city of Sergeant Bluff approved an application to the Iowa Department of Transportation's State Recreational Trails Program for the $1.2 million first phase of the proposed Loess Hills Scenic Trail. When finished, the trail will connect Baker Park in Sergeant Bluff to the Singing Hills Trail in Sioux City.

"The trail route itself has the potential to be the most scenic route in all of Siouxland," Salvatore told The Journal.

This, in addition to millions of dollars in additional work planned for this year and next year to add several miles of new local trail for use by walkers, runners, and bikers. These projects include:

* Sertoma Park Trail - This 1.25-mile trail, which will finish by the end of August, will create a loop between Sertoma and Cone Parks.

* Clark School Connector Trail - This .2-mile trail, which will be completed by the end of the year, will connect residents in the Country Club neighborhood to the Outer Drive Trail through a trail on Clark School property.

* Big Sioux River Dike Trail Phase II - This .75-mile stretch of trail, which will begin in 2018 pending approval of permits by the Army Corps of Engineers, starts at the Riverside Pool and runs along the Big Sioux River, ending at Florence Avenue where the Big Sioux River Dike Trail Phase I was completed in 2015 (this is another 1.25 miles).

* Riverfront Trail - This 1.5-mile section of trail, which will begin in 2018 pending approval of permits by the Corps, will connect Chautauqua Park to Chris Larsen Park. From Chris Larsen Park, the trail will go under the interstate, cross the Floyd River and stay east of the interstate until it reaches Bacon Creek. The trail will cross the creek, travel back under the interstate, then stay on the west side of I-29 until it connects to Chautauqua Park.

Meanwhile, a volunteer committee of supporters pursues its dream for creation of a $10 million, 16-mile trail, called PlyWood, between Sioux City and Le Mars. 

We support growing emphasis on and share growing enthusiasm for trail construction, with a focus on connectivity, evident throughout our metro region. We commend leaders, both public and private, for elevating trails to the high level of priority they deserve and urge them to remain dogged in their commitment to trails. One day, we hope all community trails will tie together to form one uninterrupted, comprehensive system second to none, including a seamless link between Sergeant Bluff and Le Mars.

Trails speak to the many benefits of living healthier lives. Trails speak to overall community quality of life and quality of life is a crucial ingredient for economic growth and prosperity.

As we have said before in this space, money invested in trails is money well spent.

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