Iowa Trails Council (Center Point, IA)

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      This is a view down a pedestrian bridge with an approximately 2-foot tall decorative fence running down both sides of the structure.

Judy Bales designed decorative elements to retrofit onto the Cedar View Bridge, helping to soften the very industrial appearance of the bridge yet not obstruct the view of the creek and woodlands Photo by Judy Bale.

A chapter of the Iowa Trails Council, the Jefferson County Trails Council (JCTC) works to design, plan, and develop local multiple-use trails. JCTC has built three bridges over the past seven years, in addition to maintaining the trail system and constructing new trail segments.

JCTC promotes its efforts through local photography and art exhibits of scenes along the trails and also integrates art elements into its trail design. In FY 2006, the Iowa Trails Council received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000 for JCTC to design and implement artistic enhancements to the Cedar View Pedestrian and Bicycle Trail Bridges. Taking inspiration from local railroad history and natural history, local artist Judy Bales designed artistic elements for the two bridges, such as a mosaic entryway comprising pavers and a flagstone approach. In addition, Bales designed an enhancement for one bridge’s chain-link fence using Cor-Ten steel. Cor-Ten steel self-oxidizes, forming a protective coat of rust, and both the color of the metal and Bales’s organic design give the bridge a more natural look, complementing the woodlands that surround it.

Planning for this project began in January 2006 and, with the community’s help, work on both bridges was completed in July 2007. Public participation and collaboration were key to the success of the project. Community members participated not only in the actual installation of the design, but in the planning process as well. For instance, a local manufacturing company, Creative Edge, helped JCTC to figure out how best to cut the Cor-Ten steel and another company, Schaus- Vorhies Manufacturing, developed a way to attach the Cor-Ten to the existing fencing.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report