West Des Moines launches fundraising push for $6.8 million Raccoon River pedestrian, bike bridge

Philip Joens
Des Moines Register
A fundraising campaign will start soon for the Raccoon River Pedestrian Bridge which will connect Walnut Woods State Park with Racoon River Park.

West Des Moines launched a fundraising campaign Wednesday for a pedestrian and bike bridge being built to connect Walnut Woods State Park with Racoon River Park.

The West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce will hold a fundraiser Saturday for the the Raccoon River Pedestrian Bridge at Racoon River Park. An 11-mile bike ride starts at 11 a.m., and cardboard boat races begin at 2 p.m. Other family festivities and music will run until 6 p.m. Donations can be made to the Des Moines-based Great Outdoors Foundation, which is supporting the effort.

The campaign is seeking to raise $3 million for the project. West Des Moines is also budgeting $3.8 million for the project, according to Katie Hartman from the Great Outdoors Foundation.

Construction on phase one of a project to connect Norwalk to the Great Western Trail got under way in the spring and was recently completed. The new trail runs along Beardsley Street 50th Avenue until County Line Road.

Norwalk also recently completed construction of the first phase of a $2.66 million, 2.4-mile paved trail that will connect with the Great Western Trail northwest of the city in Polk County. Construction on a bridge in the second phase will begin next week and should be complete in the spring, said Norwalk Parks and Rec Director Robin Leaper. 

More:West Des Moines' RecPlex will hold a grand opening Oct. 3. Here's everything you can do there.

Construction is also continuing on a High Trestle Trail extension in Ankeny from Southeast Magazine Road to Southeast Oralabor Road. A pedestrian bridge is also being constructed over Southeast Oralabor Road to the 25.7-mile Gay Lea Wilson  Trail and 5.2-mile Oralabor Gateway Trail. Construction on the trail extension and pedestrian bridge is expected in the summer of 2022. 

This map from the Dallas County Conservation Board shows the location of the planned connection between the Raccoon River Valley and High Trestle Trails. This summer, two miles will be added to the two completed in the last two years. Five miles remain until the connection is completed.

Dallas County is also continuing to work on its 9-mile connection between the Raccoon River Valley and High Trestle Trails. The project began in 2015 and is expected to be completed by 2026. 

When the connection is finished it will cap connections on 118 miles of bike trails in the Des Moines metro area. 

Philip Joens covers breaking news for The Des Moines Register. He can be reached at 515-443-3347 at pjoens@registermedia.com or on Twitter @Philip_Joens.