After years of planning by bicycling and recreational enthusiasts, a trail connecting Le Mars and Sioux City is starting to take shape.

In December, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Merrill for one of the first segment of the PlyWood Trail. Mike Wells, president and CEO of Le Mars-based Wells Enterprises and a stalwart trail booster, said the 16-mile trail, when completed, will make Northwest Iowa a bicycle destination “second to none in the state and region.”

“I’ve looked forward to this day for a long, long time,” said Wells, who pointed out that he is a triathlete and an avid cyclist.

The portion of the trail under construction– a trailhead in Merrill with some parking spots and a quarter-mile of trail headed north, designated by trail planners as phase 1A of the project — is expected to be finished toward the end of the summer, said Ryan Meyer, chair of the PlyWood Trail Foundation and a vice president at Wells Enterprises.

Phase 1A also includes a bridge over the Floyd River. Bridges represent “one of the costlier components” of trail projects, Meyer said.