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$1.5 million improvements planned for Mt. Trashmore

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Mount Trashmore. A capped landfill turned into a mountain bikers dream.

It's one of Cedar Rapids' most unique features, offering unbeatable exercise options-- and views -- for hikers and bikers.

And it was once a dumping ground.

"Our vision is to make it a recreational destination for eastern Iowa," Solid Waste Agency recreation coordinator Zac Hornung says.

To do that, they're putting out for construction bids on a $1.5 million project.

"Our goal this winter is really just to get down to business with planning and getting the place even better and more user-friendly," Hornung explains.

Plans include a paved parking lot with a pavilion where on-site staff can check in visitors.

"We're getting a new access road in there, it's going to be a bike path. Also, the main gate is going to get reconstructed, there will be a pedestrian path that they can come in and out of," Hornung describes the vision of this phase of an on-going improvement plan for the site.

It's a unique project, turning a garbage heap into a hill. It poses some unique challenges. Commercial traffic to and from the nearby composting site poses some safety issues.

"The DNR regulates, like, ground water around there, the methane gas that it's producing, so there's those hurdles," Hornung says of the trash still underneath the man-made mountain.

It will all have to be taken into account by any engineering firms applying for the project; requests for project bids will start in mid-December. After an engineering bid is selected around mid-January, Hornung says shovels could hit the dirt this spring. Weather permitting, some phases of the project could be ready by this summer.

With around 1,100 visitors during their first opening, safety for future guests is top priority.

"We saw about 60% of our users were walkers, 40% were bikers," Hornung says.

The hope is one city’s mountain of trash will become an eastern Iowa treasure.

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