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SIOUX CITY | Terry McLarty, who lives on Sioux City's northside, was bicycling toward the downtown on a gorgeous, sun-splashed Thursday.

McLarty had churned south down the Floyd River recreational trail and was turning east on Third Street to make a complete loop of the city.

But McLarty knew he wouldn't take his preferred option of the Chris Larsen Park riverfront trail because access is cut off via a closed underpass near the Tyson Events Center.

That trail is jacked up in 2016 and cyclists such as McLarty aren't happy. A season of Interstate 29 reconstruction and other work has made use of the trail possible only in separated chunks.

"I understand what is going on down there. I don't particularly care for it, because it impacts the trails," said McLarty, who typically bikes about three times per week in good weather.

Siouxland Trails Foundation Director Bob DeSmidt, of Sioux City, said cyclists and other recreation trail users are frustrated by trails being lopped off by chunks of cement yanked away or blockades halting access.

"It is gonna be a tough year. All of these are kind of necessary," DeSmidt said of the projects, with a degree of both displeasure and resignation.

Sioux City Parks and Recreation Department Director Matt Salvatore conceded there will be trail problem areas.

"Unfortunately, there will be limited access to the riverfront trail for parts of the summer. Crews will be working hard to bring the trail back as soon as possible," Salvatore said.

Salvatore said the riverfront trail is currently impacted at the east end, as a utilities project has meant closing of the Pierce Street underpass and some of the trail concrete near the site of the former Argosy riverboat casino has been ripped out. That concrete will be replaced and the underpass reopened in June, which is about the time the section that runs west and north from the public boat ramp at Hamilton Boulevard will be cut off.

The work on I-29 at Hamilton will cut off the trail for four weeks, most likely in June.

"You won't be able to go north to Riverside Park for a time," Salvatore said.

DeSmidt said he's also concerned streets where cyclists often ride are also impacted by construction. He cited the intersection of Cunningham Drive and Transit Avenue, and east-west Morningside Avenue will soon have closed lanes near Lakeport Street. DeSmidt said Morningside Avenue is a key route for people to reach well-used county roads east of the city.

Additionally, tree removal for a future sledding hill in the proposed Cone Park has closed the trail behind the Lewis and Clark Park in the Singing Hills south portion of the city.

DeSmidt said disconnected trails has been an ongoing problem in the city. City officials are trying to connect two that run in the space between I-29 and the Missouri River, the riverfront trail and the Chautauqua Park trail to the south.

A 1.5-mile space yawns between the trails. Salvatore said the connector will be built by 2019 at the latest. If all the needed $2.9 million is made available this year, the work could be done in 2017. All but about $300,000 has been pinpointed, after Missouri River Historical Development Inc. on May 13, presented a $1.25 million grant to the city.


County and education reporter

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