The “Let’s Connect” project is taking shape as work has started on the trail this summer.

The nine-mile project will connect the Raccoon Valley River Trail and the High Trestle Trail, from Perry to Woodward.

Dallas County Conservation Board Director Mike Wallace said work has started on phase one. The rough grading has been completed on the first 1.56 miles heading from 18th Street in Perry east to 130th Street. The grading was completed as of the first week in June.

The Dallas County Conservation Board (DCCB) awarded the phase one project to Howrey Construction of Rockwell City. Wallace said the first 1.56 miles were cleared and grubbed before the rough grading started.

The contractor was on schedule, Wallace said, until the recent rains. He is not sure if that will set the schedule back for culvert work or building up portions of the trail.

The contractor had estimated paving was to be completed in July. Wallace said the first phase should be completed in mid-summer.

“It definitely will show that we are accomplishing something,” he said. “You can talk for many years and hold your hand out for funds and that works pretty good. But people also like to see some brick and mortar being put down.”

Phase two isn’t set to start until the 2019 construction season. Around 55 percent of the estimated $5 million has been raised for the “Let’s Connect” project.

The DCCB recently received a $15,000 Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund grant. Wallace said the “Let’s Connect” project was one of only 10 projects selected by the Doppelt Fund.

“We feel pretty good about that, competing with other national trails that are out there,” he said.

The $15,000 grant will go toward the acquisition of six parcels of land for the connector project. Wallace is currently working on writing additional grants to help find more funds for phase two and three.

Still, he is happy to see progress being made on the “Let’s Connect” project this construction season.

“We’re hoping this will re-energize some donors to contribute some additional funds or new ones who have been sitting on the side waiting to see if this is really going to happen,” Wallace said. “Well, it is happening. You can go out and take a look and see that it is moving along.”

He encouraged those who are interested in donating to contact his office at 515-465-3577.