Connecting Community Assets

Frequently Asked Questions

Sleeping Giant FAQ's

Why a pedestrian trail bridge?

A bridge for the use of walkers and bikers has been on the wish list of many groups like Linn County Trails Association and the Cedar Rapids Comprehensive Trails Plan for a number of years. The Cedar Valley Trail that currently carries users from Ely at the south through Cedar Rapids and on to Cedar Falls at the north is currently impeded by the temporary, inadequate and congested bridge crossing on 16th Avenue. As the Trail is soon extended all the way from Iowa City, offering an otherwise complete 100 mile trail experience, this trail “pinch point” will become all the more problematic.

Why use the existing structure?

There is significant advantage to using the remnants of the old Rock Island Railroad Bridge in addition to the fact that it is ideally located for connecting existing trails and providing a “grand entrance” to the exciting plans for “Mount Trashmore.” Repurposing existing piers, steel, and abutments will save money and prevent waste. Further, the permitting process for new crossings or an intrusion into waterways can be problematic. Here, we are simply awakening the potential of a dilapidated structure.

Why not just a lower cost platform bridge?

Yes, simple access from one side of the River to the other could be accomplished for less money than the proposed compelling crossing experience. Here, 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 Bridge as one of the must-visit pedestrian bridges in the world.

Why a split bridge deck?

There are a number of compelling advantages of the proposed bifurcated bridge deck, some practical and some experiential. On the practical side, again, we studied the High Trestle successes and, yes, one particular failure. Had its designers known then of the thousands of trail users that would be drawn to the experience, a much wider bridge deck would have been allotted. The 20 foot width is simply not enough to safely accommodate bikers and trekkers going in two directions in addition to users taking selfies and stopping to enjoy the view. The split deck of the Giant will encourage leisure enjoyment of families with strollers, fishers, skateboarders, seniors, disabled as well as bikers making time from Iowa City to Cedar Falls.

Why a 125 foot tower support?

A unique feature of the Sleeping Giant location is its location just around the river bend from Czech Village. This has the benefit of keeping the Bridge right in the neighborhood, only a couple blocks from NewBo City Market’ but, unfortunately, keeping it hidden, unseen and unnoticed. So, after multiple design ideas and critiques from all neighborhood groups and organizations along with a design review team of artists, designers, engineers, bikers and a cross section of area citizens, it was concluded that the Sleeping Giant structure must be high, lighted and iconic. This way it will be seen and draw attention from all around Cedar Rapids and from the other bridges through the City.

Why not use funds for streets or flood protection?

Spending priorities are always crucial conversations for citizen directed governments. There are so many good and essential projects that need to be done. Those of us advocating for the Sleeping Giant are very respectful of such competing needs. That is why we are committed to generating and finding dedicated monies for trail and recreation improvements and to generating support from user groups and corporate sponsors committed to creating citizen amenities geared toward bringing and retaining good folks to our community.

Why combine with Cedar Lake for fund raising?

At the suggestion of project funders and community leaders along with an understanding of logical planning for similarly geared recreation/trail amenities this joint effort, ConnectCR, is conceived. Cedar Lake and the Sleeping Giant Bridge 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 the country to travel from Iowa City to Cedar Falls with particular time in the Cedar Rapids area communities to enjoy 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.

Why spend so much for trails?

Trails are linear parks. They allow bicyclists, joggers and walkers the opportunity to safely get outdoors to experience nature. Trails promote activities which improve physical, as well as mental, health. They help businesses attract and retain good workers by creating a community that we all want to live in. Trails increase tourism and increase property values. Trails connect neighborhoods, schools, communities and people from all walks (pun intended) of life.

Why not use existing 16th Ave. Bridge?

Right now bikers and trekkers have been using the wonderful and historic Bridge of Lions. All agree, however, that this great neighborhood icon was never intended nor can it accommodate this level of traffic. This bridge will, however, maintain a crucial role in completing a community loop for walkers and bikers meandering through Czech Village and NewBo neighborhoods. This loop will be one of the more compelling benefits created by the completion of the Sleeping Giant Bridge. Imagine families with strollers and seniors on a Sunday walk along the trail atop the completed flood berm on the NewBo side, leisurely experiencing the Cedar from the observation platforms of the Sleeping Giant then back along the Czech Village side to its shops and Museum then back to the NewBo Market via the Bridge of Lions.

What trails will connect to the Bridge?

The Sleeping Giant will connect the Hoover Trail, The Cedar River Trail and the Cedar Valley Trail will become a part of the National Discovery Trail traversing the Nation from sea to shining sea.

Why now?

First, if course, this connection has been a priority of interested groups for a number of years. However, there are practical and immediate needs. The flood protection system is beginning immediately at the site of the Sleeping Giant. Money can be saved by coordinating current excavation for the flood wall with the approach needs of the Bridge. Further, flood protection on the west side will soon make access south to the existing Cedar River Trail impossible without the Sleeping Giant.

Friends of Cedar Lake FAQ's

Who owns the lake?

In 1982, Iowa Electric Light and Power and the City of Cedar Rapids created a lease that allowed recreational uses for the lake and surrounding area. Historically, the primary use of the lake was for cooling water for the 6th Street Coal plant. The facility, which was heavily damaged in the flood of 2008, has been decommissioned and the building has been demolished. Alliant Energy is preparing to transfer ownership of the lake to the City of Cedar Rapids once environmental Phase II testing is completed.

What is phase II testing?

The process involves taking core samples from the bottom of the lake to determine the composition of the sediment on the bottom of the lake. This is a necessary due diligence step that must be taken before ownership moves to the City. This testing is being conducted and funded by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and results are expected to be released in spring 2017.

Why does the City need to own the lake?

In order to qualify for the IDNR Lake Restoration Program, Enhance Iowa Funds, and other state and federal grants as well as many private funding sources, the lake must be publicly owned.

Why now?

The City is currently in the process of developing and implementing a comprehensive flood protection plan that benefits both sides of the river. This plan involves the areas around Cedar Lake and the Sleeping Giant Bridge. Advancing the vision for ConnectCR at the same time enables the ability to tap into funding for flood protection and expansion of the trail system. Bottom line, keeping the momentum going forward now saves money.

Why combine with Cedar Lake with the Sleeping Giant Bridge for fundraising?

In addition to flood protection synergies, the two projects combined create connections with endless possibilities. Cedar Lake and the Sleeping Giant Bridge 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 the country to travel from Iowa City to Cedar Falls with particular time in the Cedar Rapids area communities to enjoy 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.

How will this benefit the community?

In 2016, Indianapolis-based Pros Consulting conducted a feasibility study to assess the potential economic impact of ConnectCR on our community. Results indicate that the combined projects have the potential to deliver a cumulative $17.8 million of new revenue into our community.

 
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