New Elm Creek bridge pursued



October 29, 2015 - 12:00 AM

The old Washington Avenue bridge spanning Elm Creek has been gone for decades.
Thrive Allen County would like to change that, at least for pedestrians.
David Toland, Thrive executive director, received permission this week from the Iola City Council to begin the process of applying for a grant from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
If successful, the grant could be worth up to $75,000 to pay for engineering and related costs in designing a foot bridge.
Thrive is ineligible for the grant, Toland explained. Instead, the organization will apply for the grant on behalf of the city.
“Iola would receive the dollars,” Toland said. “We’re not contemplating any match or financial requirement from the city on this.”
The grant application is the first step in building the bridge, Toland explained.
The city in recent years has overseen extensive improvements in the area.
A disc golf course just north of the creek opened earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the city — with more than a little assistance from Iola’s Community Involvement Task Force and Thrive — has developed Elm Creek Park South. However, the only way to access the park is to drive south on the old highway, then back north on Bassett Street.
In addition, Thrive is in the construction phase of the Lehigh Portland Trail south of the creek and near Elks Lake (the old Lehigh Portland quarry). When complete, the trail also will connect to South Washington, and eventually to the Southwind Rail Trail to the west.
Getting a pedestrian bridge across the creek “would be a huge, huge enhancement to the city’s transportation system,” Toland said.
Council members voted unanimously to allow Thrive to pursue the grant.
“I think it sounds great,” Councilwoman Beverly Franklin said.
The grant application is due next week.

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