A pair of Cedar Rapids projects dependent on private fundraising of at least $7 million has surpassed their goal, paving the way for the revitalization of Cedar Lake and a beautiful new pedestrian bridge over the Cedar River.

A community group known as ConnectCR has announced they've privately raised $7.169 million. The Hall-Perrine Foundation and the City of Cedar Rapids are each donating $5 million, leaving the group only $2.8 million short of its $20 million goal. The Gazette says organizers hope to collect the remaining funds from a variety of grants. However, ConnectCR is moving ahead now, announcing on their Facebook page that "This project is a reality." Here's what to expect.

Residents will see the first changes at Cedar Lake (photo at top), along the I-380 S-Curve through Cedar Rapids, within a couple of years. The lake is expected to become a recreation destination when work is complete. The plan is for kayaks, canoes, more fishing jetties, a boardwalk over the water on the lake's south side, a number of small islands, and protection and enhancement of the wetlands on the lake's north side. There will also be walking trails and Little Village Mag says a "nature-based playground area" will be built.

via Shive-Hattery

The other part of the ConnectCR Project is a beautiful new pedestrian bridge (photo above) to be built over the Cedar River, just south of Czech Village.

The bridge will go in the same spot where the Rock Island bridge once crossed the river, before being badly damaged in the 2008 flood. The twin-deck bike and pedestrian bridge, expected to be 125-feet long, will connect and complete the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. The bridge's most iconic feature will be a 193-foot tall smokestack that will replicate one that stood only about 100-feet away from where the bridge will be built. A smokestack (photo below) towered over the Sinclair/Wilson/Farmstead packing plant along the Cedar River from 1909 through its demolition in 2010.

Both projects are expected to be completed by 2025.