Friday, August 29, 2008

Rice Creek Trail Update

Anoka County Parks is now announcing that they have enough state and federal funding to complete part of the Rice Creek North Regional Trail in Lino Lakes. I had introduced bonding legislation in 2008 that would have provided about $2.1 million to match $1 million in federal matching funds. Unfortunately the Governor made a line-item veto of this legislation. However, Anoka County Parks worked long and hard to put some dollars together to complete part of it.

Here's what John VonDeLinde, Director of Anoka County Parks, had to say in a recent newsletter.

"For our readers who enjoy trails, I have some good news! After months of deliberations and meetings, final funding arrangements have been made for the first phase development of the Rice Creek North Regional Trail. The Metropolitan Council and Minnesota State Legislature have agreed to the use of $525,000 in Metropolitan Council grant funds (Environmental Trust Funds) for the project. These funds will match $1,050,000 in Federal Transportation Enhancements Funding. A total of $1,575,000 is now available for the project.

"The new regional trail will extend from the north end of Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve, at the site of the new YMCA and Lino Lakes Town Center development. It will extend south and westerly through the park reserve to an existing trail along Birch Street. From that point, it will drop southwesterly along the Rice Creek North Regional Trail Corridor, connecting with Baldwin Lake Park in Lino Lakes. The trail will be comprised of a 10’ wide bituminous path and several bridges and boardwalks. The overall length of this new segment is approximately three miles.

"This new trail will be an important connector in the linking of trails between Washington County and the Minneapolis park and trail system. This is the final “missing gap” in a 20 mile regional trail corridor. The second phase to complete the Rice Creek Trail is planned to occur in the next three to five years. Additional federal, state, and regional funding will be sought for that final two mile link. The future segment will extend from Baldwin Lake City Park, south and westerly to the intersection of County Road J and Lexington Avenue. In the interim, an alternative route on Ware Road and County Road J is being established under the current grant.

"When completed, the new trail is expected to generate about 400,000 annual uses. This is in addition to approximately 600,000 currently occurring on the existing Rice Creek North Regional Trail in Shoreview and Fridley. For people who like trails it will certainly be one of the most scenic and important trail facilities in the north metropolitan area.

"My sincere thanks are extended to the Minnesota State Legislature, LCCMR, Metropolitan Council, Transportation Advisory Board, and the staff at MnDOT and the Metropolitan Council for making this trail project a reality. Construction of the new trail should be underway by summer 2009 with completion in spring 2010..."