New bike lane connects FD trails

Bicyclists and drivers have been sharing Williams Drive and 20th Avenue North for years.

Now, new markings on the pavement show exactly how the two groups should share parts of those roads.

As part of a project to expand the trails network in and around Fort Dodge, an on-street trail connection for bicyclists was created. It is along Williams Drive between Snell-Crawford Park and 20th Avenue North. Along 20th Avenue North, it is between Williams Drive and North 15th Street.

To create the bicycle lane, parking was prohibited on the west side of Williams Drive and the south side of 20th Avenue North.

Signs marking the no-parking zones and the bike lane were put up last year, according to Chad Schaeffer, the city’s director of engineering, business affairs and community growth. The bike lane stripes and bicycle symbols were painted on the pavement recently.

Schaeffer said the project has created the first actual bike lane in Fort Dodge.

Bicycles, he said, now pass by any vehicles parked on the east side of Williams Drive just as they always have. The difference, he said, is that there is a marked bicycle lane.

”Operationally, it’s no different than it was,” he said. ”From the visual standpoint, there is something new.”

The completion of the on-street bicycle trail is another step toward wrapping up 15 trail projects for which the community received a $1.2 million Vision Iowa grant in November 2010.

The creation of numerous trail segments since the grant was awarded have made it possible for a person to walk, run or bicycle from Iowa Central Community College on the city’s west side to John F. Kennedy Memorial Park north of Fort Dodge without getting off a trail.

A trail along 10th Avenue North between Fort Dodge Senior High and Fort Dodge Middle School remains to be completed. Also to be completed is a trail connection between the Orchard Glen neighborhood on the city’s north side and the existing Soldier Creek Nature Trail. Schaeffer said that project is on hold until a developer makes a decision on building more homes in Orchard Glen.

The total cost of all the trails is about $6.7 million. Federal, state, county and city money, along with private donations, is being used to pay for them.