Dakota County will expand regional trail through Rosemount this yearFour-mile section of trail connecting Inver Grove to Spring Lake Park will be constructed this summer
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
Currently, the Mississippi River Regional Trail stops at the Rosemount border in Inver Grove Heights, but it’s about to get longer. Assuming spring does come to Minnesota, Dakota County will construct four-miles of trail through Rosemount this year.
Dakota County senior planner John Mertens said the trail will run parallel to Minnesota Highway 55 on Flint Hills Resources property, past the Pine Bend Cemetery and east to the Spring Lake Park Reserve archery range parking lot.
The estimated cost to build the paved trail through Rosemount is $3 million. Mertens said the county will use several funding sources for the project including a $1 million federal transportation grant and a $200,000 Minnesota State Legacy grant.
Mertens said the Rosemount portion of the trail looked like it would be tricky because the county had to acquire easements from Flint Hills. But the refinery worked well with the county and even donated the easement for the trail.
“Flint Hills has been a great partner in this,” said Mertens.
The county is still working with the railroad on an agreement because the trail will pass near tracks. Though a deal is not yet complete, Mertens said it looks as though they will be able to work something out soon. Pending the bidding process, construction will begin sometime this mid to late summer.
Dakota County facility development manager Bruce Blair said the purpose of the trail is to provide non-motorized recreational activities including biking and hiking. He added that its proximity to the river offers additional opportunities.
Eventually the Mississippi River Regional Trail will extend 27 miles from St. Paul’s Harriet Island Park to Hastings. While the county doesn’t have usage numbers for the new sections built through Inver Grove Heights, Mertens said the north segments of the trail are well used.
Mertens hopes the completed trail will be a regional draw. While it may take some time to market the trail, he said the goal is to draw tourism to the area especially among bicyclists.
“We expect use to go up dramatically,” said Mertens.
The master plan for the Mississippi River Regional Trail was created in 1998.The county has built the trail in phases. Blair said seven of the 10 phases have been completed. Rosemount is the eighth phase. Total completion is set for 2015.
Plans call for trail construction in two sections through Spring Lake Park in 2014, which will complete the trail.
“It’s been rewarding to see these pieces put in place. We knew it was going to take a long time,” said Mertens.
Blair said the MRRT provides the spine for other trail systems through the various communities. In Rosemount, the city has plans to connect to the trail via the Rosemount Interpretive Corridor which will connect downtown to the MRRT.
For information on the trail visit the county’s website at co.dakota.mn.us.