DNR Open Houses: STRB attended the DNR open houses and lots of people sent in comments. The DNR is still planning on using the remaining $1.7M in bonding money to start building a paved trail from Lyndale Ave to the Cedar Ave bridge. They claim they can build the whole four mile stretch with that money. We are skeptical as actual paved trail construction costs in the metro are $1M to $3M per mile. The soils in the river valley are quite poor and unstable so a paved trail will likely be on the high end. The DNR may only be able to build a mile or two before they run out of money, if they can even find a contractor to take the risk. The DNR, Parks and (Paved) Trails Council, and of course the lobbyist involved just want the paved trail started so they can try to get the remaining sections funded by the public later on. This is all just bad policy given that there is no money for maintenance of our hundreds of miles of existing trails. The remaining $1.7M in bonding money should either go to a bridge over Nine Mile, which is something everyone agrees is needed, or should be allowed to revert to the state treasury.
Public Opposition: STRB also did a data request for the comments the DNR received about their trail plans. The largest number of comments were opposed to a paved trail in the MN River Valley. That is the same input the DNR received with their first survey and a survey from Bloomington. SURVEY SAYS: NO PAVED TRAIL! Why isn’t the DNR listening to the public they serve instead of paid lobbyists who serve themselves?
Flood Damage: This past spring summer saw a great deal of flooding that left the trail under water for months. The experts say we can expect more frequent flooding in the future due to climate changes and upstream development. This should be a wake-up call to the would-be pavers that this is a bad place to build anything especially a paved trail that would need significant repairs after a flood. Meanwhile the existing natural trail is back open again and being used. Really kind of amazing that something that doesn’t cost anything is so resilient and sustainable.
35W Bridge: The 35W bridge is being replaced and part of the reason is because the highway south of the river is susceptible to flooding, just like Highway 169 was before it was rebuilt. Yes, the Minnesota River floods! The good news is that the new bridge will have pedestrian and bike access. This is a good thing because it will give bikers better access across the river and to existing paved trails on the south side of the river in Dakota and Scott Counties. Do we need another paved trail on the north side for bike commuters to make connections? No we do not.
Election Season: The mid-term election season is upon us. We all need to make sure that the paved trail controversy is a subject that gets attention. Please do your part by bringing this issue up to candidates who are seeking your vote. We need to keep getting the message out!
Need to keep spreading the message: As mentioned above, we need all of you to continue to get the word out about the paved trail issue. Our efforts continue to have a positive impact and we need to keep up the momentum.
Media: Know anyone in the media? If so please contact STRIB as we’d like to get a story in the local news. The more people that know about this issue the better.
Stay tuned, stay involved, and continue to spread the message about the danger that developing a paved trail poses to this wonderful place.