- Associated Press - Monday, December 12, 2016

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - Mason City officials are working with a foundation to buy 5 miles of abandoned railroad line and build a paved trail through the heart of the northern Iowa city.

The High Line Bike Trail would run north to south through the city, and would have trails leading to Clear Lake and the Lime Creek Nature Center. The trail could be ready for some use within five years, the Globe Gazette (https://bit.ly/2gDN0j6 ) reported.

Mason City administrator Brent Trout said the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation will buy the land and sell it to the city over time. City officials are negotiating with two of the landowners for the sale, Union Pacific Railroad and Backtrack Inc.

“This is considered to be one of the rare opportunities you get to be able to put a trail through the middle of town through some of the most scenic property that exists,” Trout said.

The foundation is participating in the purchase through its Rails for Trails program. Foundation spokesman Joe Jayjack said INHF has bought over 2,000 miles for conversion to bike trails since it was created 35 years ago.

“They’re really some of the last natural and greenway corridors left in what is really a highly developed state,” Jayjack said.

The negotiations with the landowners were in a memorandum of understanding, which included the Quiet Zone agreement with Union Pacific. The agreement was called the Quiet Zone because the project calls for closing two crossings on an active rail line and will result in less locomotive whistles than federal law requires.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, https://www.globegazette.com/

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