People for Bikes, an industry coalition of bicycling suppliers and retailers, has awarded Thrive Allen County a $10,000 grant towards completion of the “King of Trails” bike/ped bridge over Elm Creek in Iola.
The new bridge, on South Washington Avenue, will span Elm Creek and provide a safe and convenient connection between Iola residential areas and recreational amenities such as the Lehigh Portland Trails, the Southwind Rail Trail, and Elm Creek Park South, as well as employment opportunities in Iola’s South Industrial Park.
The bridge project was initiated with a $59,320 grant from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, which was awarded in December 2015 to fun preliminary engineering work. In June 2016, the Sunflower Foundation awarded $30,000, and the Kansas Health Foundation’s Community Engagement Initiative has committed $20,000 to the project. Additional grants and monies are being pursued to fund the purchase and installation of the 150-foot steel truss bridge, projected to cost about $260,000.
The grant was one of only seven awarded in the entire nation, out of over two hundred applications, and one of only three for the maximum $10,000 amount. This is only the fourth such grant in Kansas, with previous grants going towards the Community Connection Trail in Cottonwood Falls, the Wam-Sag-Man Trail in Wamego, and the FreeWheels for Kids Bike Club in Kansas City