Plan proposed to pave original sections of Monona’s Butterfly Trail

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

A plan has been proposed to pave the two original sections of Monona’s Butterfly Trail. 

People like the ease of traveling on the newer paved portion that stretches from the Butterfly Garden to Gateway Park, volunteer Jim Langhus told the city council at its Jan. 20 meeting, so the Butterfly Garden and Trail Committee hopes to improve accessibility on the older stretch.

Langhus said the first portion of the Butterfly Trail was put in 20 years ago and the second part 10 years ago. They’re a combined 5,100 feet in length—nearly one mile. 

In order to cut installation costs, he said the committee suggests the purchase of a piece of equipment called a TRAILrider, which could be pulled behind a truck or other vehicle to pave the trail.

“It can be drug around and allows us to lay the trail ourselves with only the cement cost,” he explained. The current gravel will provide a good base. “We’ll grind out and flatten it, then layer two inches of gravel and go through with the TRAILrider.”

The TRAILrider would cost an estimated $16,000. Around $80,000 in donations would be required to pave the whole stretch with six-inch-thick concrete, Langhus said. The project could potentially be broken up into sections, with paving completed as donations are raised.

When asked how the committee hopes to raise the needed funds, Langhus said a $200 donation to sponsor a 10-foot-long section would be ideal. The donor’s name would then be included in the section. It can be an alternative to purchasing memorial trees or benches.

“We’re all benched out,” he said. “And a bench is $300. That’s 1.5 sections.”

Once purchased, the TRAILrider could be used for additional city projects, like a trail connecting Monona and Luana. It could even be rented out to other communities or organizations constructing trails, added city administrator Barb Collins.

Langhus said he’ll continue to research the TRAILrider and the pros and cons of pervious versus non-pervious paving. 

“It does cost to get it started,” he stated, referencing the piece of equipment, “but there’s good potential. If you don’t take that step, you can forget the hopes.”

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