What’s up with all the trees being removed along the Great Western Trail?

Glad you asked.

There have been few pleasant riding days this spring, but several riders have asked about trees being removed along the Great Western Trail. Yes, it’s more than trimming back the canopy.

This year, the arched Army Post Road Bridge over the Great Western Trail will be demolished and replaced with a concrete box culvert/tunnel for the Great Western Trail.

Bottom line: Expect that you can still make it to Cumming on most days. Keep reading; there will be a one-week closure with no detour.

Trees are being removed now for detours so the trail may remain open during construction. The City of Des Moines Engineering department (in charge of the bridge removal and new culvert) expects the project will begin in earnest in a matter of days, depending on weather and ground conditions.

The Polk County Conservation Board (in charge of the Great Western maintenance) reports that the trail should remain open for a majority of the project. There are three hard-surfaced detours that will take place to remove the bridge and build the newtunnel.

Once the new tunnel is in place, expect a five-day weekday trail closure later in the season. (That includes a Tuesday, for those of you making a weekly pilgrimage to Cumming.) The contract requires that the trail remain open on both adjacent weekends; the contract calls for a $1,000 per day liquidated damages for the contractor not meeting these closure requirements.

The one-week closure will allow crews to pave approaches to the new tunnel. About a week before the trail closure, expect to see signs alerting trail users of the upcoming closure. The signs will specify that no detour is available.

The Des Moines Engineering Department pledges to regularly share project information with the Polk County Conservation Board and Des Moines Parks and Recreation. Please contact Ben Cole ( for additional information or comments.

Thanks for the info Carl

#1 - MrPeske posted Mar 27, 2014

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