Where will the bridge be visible from downtown?
The Alliant Energy LightLine is designed so that the tower will be seen from various vantage points downtown and in the neighborhoods. Advanced LED lighting on the bridge and tower will also help with its visibility. Trees and berms along the interstate may impede viewing in some areas.
What will the area around the lake look like?
A new landscape architecture plan incorporates new recreational amenities, trees and berms to make areas look fresh and inviting for future generations to enjoy. Plans also call for fishing jetties, a pier, and an ADA kayak launch area to better the lake experience. You can view the Cedar Lake Master Plan here.
What does it mean that the lake will be “cleaned”?
All Cedar Lake improvements that impact the existing sediment will be conducted in an appropriate manner, based on an approved mitigation plan. The City conducted a Watershed Study that identified the characteristics of on-going storm water impacts, including recommendations of best practices to improve water quality. The City is also working with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on a lake restoration plan for Cedar Lake. All of these actions are designed to improve the water quality at Cedar Lake in both the short-term and long-term.
Will the lake be safe enough to swim in?
The DNR removed the lake from the endangered waterways list in 2015 and declared the water safe, allowing for recreational use other than swimming. While there won’t be swimming at this time, it will be explored in the future as additional studies are done to ensure it’s safe for that purpose. The City of Cedar Rapids along with other interested parties is developing a watershed management plan that helps limit any pollutants that might enter Cedar Lake.
What is the vision for development in both areas?
In addition to flood protection synergies, ConnectCR creates connections with endless possibilities. Cedar Lake and the Alliant Energy LightLine are bookends of this extraordinary urban lake and trail attraction. The success of both are crucial to creating the kind of magnet that will draw recreationists from all over to travel and spend time in the Cedar Rapids area, enjoying incomparable biking, trekking, kayaking, canoeing, strolling, fishing and nature loving experiences. And, they will serve to keep our young citizens here as part of a thriving urban/rural environment.
On both sides of the river at the bridge landing areas, there are many recreational and development plans in the works. Mount Trashmore has scenic overlooks, trails, monarch pollinator zones and seating. On the east side, development continues in the NewBo area.
How will this project specifically connect the area trail system?
The ConnectCR project enhances the connection to Hoover Trail, the Cedar River Trail and the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, and it will become a part of the American Discovery Trail and the Great American Rail-Trail. These latter two trails traverse the nation from coast-to-coast.
Given the current location of the bridge, can it be simplified and the cost decreased?
Yes, simple access from one side of the river to the other could be accomplished for less money than the proposed compelling crossing experience. However, we studied the successes of other iconic trail bridges all over the country. No results are more compelling than those of the High Trestle Trail Bridge near Madrid, Iowa. Riders and trekkers from virtually all over the world are coming to Iowa for the experience provided by this iconic Iowa passage. The BBC website touts High Trestle Trail Bridge as one of the must-visit pedestrian bridges in the world. It’s our goal to have the ConnectCR project and Cedar Rapids become a destination, similar to the High Trestle Trail Bridge.
Can the existing bridges be used for pedestrian/bicycle traffic?
Adding a pedestrian/bicycle lane to an existing bridge potentially would require additional piers, which is costly. Safety is also a significant issue. The speed limits on bridges are higher than those in other areas downtown where bikes and cars share the road. The Alliant Energy LightLine allows us to have a dedicated bridge for the anticipated increased bike and pedestrian traffic, which means fewer accidents overall.
There are a number of compelling advantages of the proposed 23-foot-wide bridge deck, some practical and some experiential. On the practical side, again, we studied other bridges and took into account the bridge width in order to safely accommodate bikers and trekkers going in two directions in addition to users taking selfies and stopping to enjoy the view. The wide deck of the Alliant Energy LightLine will encourage leisure enjoyment for families with strollers, fishers, skateboarders, seniors, disabled, as well as bikers making the trip from Iowa City to Cedar Falls.
It seems this project is City infrastructure in nature. What is the city’s role in this project?
The grassroots efforts in Cedar Rapids can be extremely powerful and forward-thinking. The idea to revitalize Cedar Lake, as well as the plan to develop a pedestrian bridge, came from local citizens in two community groups wanting to improve the City. When our two groups joined to form ConnectCR, we went to the City of Cedar Rapids with our ideas. The City and community leaders have been very supportive of our vision.
The City of Cedar Rapids has committed $5 million to the ConnectCR Project. This makes it the largest public/private partnership in the area and in the history of the City of Cedar Rapids. The private fundraising component leverages the public dollars to generate a more significant development. For instance, rather than a functional pedestrian bridge, the community will create a signature destination bridge that draws people to it and is a tribute to our unique industrial heritage. That is why we are committed to generating and finding dedicated monies for trail and recreation improvements, as well as garnering support from user groups and corporate sponsors committed to creating citizen amenities geared toward bringing and retaining good citizens to our community.
Who is responsible for construction?
The City will be responsible for construction, consistent with the vision for ConnectCR. This is similar to recent community projects, like the McGrath Amphitheatre and Greene Square. Specific requirements are outlined in an agreement between the City and ConnectCR Board to include:
o Key project features of Cedar Lake and the LightLine
o Construction timeline with significant milestones
o Form and frequency of project status updates
How will the bridge and lake be maintained when the City takes over?
The City has committed to taking ownership of both Cedar Lake and the Alliant Energy LightLine. When the City took ownership of Cedar Lake and the former CRANDIC railroad site, these became part of the City’s Parks System and will be maintained as such. Projects will include intentional design elements to help maintain efficiencies and enhance sustainable characteristics. Ongoing maintenance will be part of the City’s overall property and park operations. City staff will continue to work closely on the construction to ensure the efficient long-term maintenance of these recreational amenities.
What does future maintenance look like?
The City’s Parks and Recreation Department prepares a 10-year Capital Improvement Plan that is updated annually to ensure future maintenance items are forecasted for budgeting. Cedar Lake and the Alliant Energy LightLine will be annually reviewed, as part of this standard process.
How will the bridge be protected from future floods?
The Flood Control System has already been constructed at the future site of the Alliant Energy LightLine. The levee has been designed with the approach needs of the bridge in mind. This coordinated planning effort ensures the most effective and efficient use of materials.
During floods, pressure from water and debris can break apart a bridge's system and lift the structure from its supports. Today, engineers design bridges to protect them from extreme weather and flood events. Decks and design structures will be above flood levels to avoid being hit with debris, and structural elements will be designed to allow water to flow through and around piers and abutments. By building spans, we avoid the possibility of large objects hitting structural elements. Many aging structures were built with piers not set deeply into the riverbed. Newer ones benefit from being built with modern pile drivers that place piers deeper and provide a more solid foundation.
Additionally, it will be built above the height of the 2008 Cedar River flood level.
How will flooding affect the lake?
Flood protection is being incorporated into the lake design to protect the lake and more than 93 businesses in the area. With a better understanding and management of the lake, its water level and hydrology, we will be more prepared when rain and flood events do occur.
How does it fit with the current need to construct flood walls?
The City is currently in the process of implementing the Flood Control System Master Plan, a comprehensive flood protection plan that benefits both sides of the Cedar River. This plan involves the areas around Cedar Lake and the Alliant Energy LightLine. Advancing the vision for ConnectCR at the same time enables the ability to integrate these trail and recreational enhancements into flood protection.
What economic impact is anticipated with this project?
It is expected that ConnectCR will help boost the growing and thriving biking economy in the area in addition to promoting continued development between the LightLine and Cedar Lake in the downtown area. In Iowa, the economic impact of cycling is already more than $350,000,000, and the healthcare costs saved by bicyclists is nearly $74,000,000, according to IMPLAN, the nation’s leading provider of economic impact data to governments and academia.
What is the status of the acquisitions of Cedar Lake and the bridge site?
The City of Cedar Rapids acquired Cedar Lake for $1.00 and paid another $1.00 for the bridge site. Both are now owned by the City of Cedar Rapids.