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Client Name
Polk County Conservation
Client Type
Project Type
Services Provided
  • Bridge Concept & Feasibility Studies
  • Bridge Construction Engineering
  • Bridge Design
Project Manager
Contact Steven Kunz, PE
Structural Engineer

This 10-foot wide, 25-mile long trail connects five cities across four counties along a rail-banked railroad corridor. The focal point of the trail is a 2,530-foot long, 130-feet tall bridge over the Des Moines River, which was constructed on existing concrete piers from a former railroad bridge. Shuck-Britson coordinated with Snyder & Associates and public artist David Dahlquist on the artistic design of the bridge. The project was divided into five construction phases and one large bridge construction contract for funding purposes.

Within the first year, Snyder & Associates helped the City of Woodward utilize REAP funds to pave the first 1,111-feet of trail in 2006. In 2007, we constructed 1.3 miles of concrete trail in Woodward and 1.6 miles of asphalt trail in Ankeny. With the bookends completed, the rest of the trail was paved. At the time, the bridge over the Des Moines River still needed funding to be completed. As 8.5 miles of concrete trail and 11 miles of asphalt trail were completed, along with the rehabilitation of eight smaller bridges in 2008, excitement grew over the new trail and the envisioned Des Moines River Bridge.

In addition to REAP, funding assistance we provided included:

  • Federal Earmark
  • Statewide TE
  • Regional TE
  • CAT Grant
  • Corporate Donations
  • Private Donations

In just five months, the project team collected over $550,000 in private donations to match a Vision Iowa Challenge Grant of $1,750,000. This accomplishment allowed us to submit the bridge project for letting through the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT).

Design reviews and construction permits were obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Iowa DOT. All design, specifications, and construction were done according to current Iowa DOT specifications and procedures.

Construction of the bridge over the Des Moines River began in 2009 and was completed in 2011. A critical winter construction period allowed the contractor to access the river valley while the ground was frozen and the river/lake level was low for the placement of beams on the existing bridge piers. The concrete bridge deck and railings had to be poured from the top, as the river valley promptly filled with Spring 2010 thaw and rains. Installation of art elements extended construction into winter.

In April 2011, the trail opened with a grand celebration that welcomed over 3,000 visitors on a sunny Saturday.

During the day, breathtaking panoramic views of the valley and rolling hills are available from the bridge and overlooks, which provide safe rest intervals and feature interpretive wildlife and historical exhibits. During the night, illuminated crib frames mounted along the bridge provide a stunningly different experience. Massive monoliths, located one-half mile apart at each end of the bridge and fashioned to mimic limestone bluffs with coal seams, announce the bridge as trail users approach from either direction.

Designed for longevity, the High Trestle Trail will provide users with an exhilarating experience for many decades with minimal maintenance.