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City aims to make it easier to ditch the car

Jason Lindahl imagines a future in which Rosemount residents can leave the car in the garage and hop on a bike to go out for dinner and a movie.

Over the next several weeks, the city of Rosemount will work with a consultant to find ways to make that possible.

More than 20 people attended an April 7 open house to kick off the city's five-month effort to develop a master plan to make biking and walking in Rosemount easier.

Lindahl, Rosemount's city planner, expects that master plan to include everything from new trails to tools residents can use to find their way around.

The city already has a network of biking and walking trails. But Lindahl said those trails tend to be geared more to recreation than transportation. They're good for a weekend ride with the family, but not necessarily for getting to work, to school or downtown to shop.

"We think the system could do a better job of connecting those destinations so they can use that same network for transportation," Lindahl said.

More than 20 people attended an April 7 open house held to introduce the city's efforts on behalf of non-motorized transportation. At the meeting, consultant Greg Ingraham talked about the benefits of a healthy trail network and the possibilities of connecting Rosemount's trail system to other systems outside of the city. Lindahl also took feedback from residents.

"They're looking for improvements that would make it safer, easier and more direct to bike and walk to a number of locations within Rosemount," Lindahl said. "The downtown. The community center, high school, middle school and elementary school area."

Rosemount's improvements likely won't all involve new trails or bike lanes. And some are already in use in parts of the city.

Red Pine Elementary School is located just over the border in Eagan but draws a number of students from Rosemount. The school has used grant money to develop maps identifying safe walking and biking routes to school and has set up drop-off zones so parents can drop their students a few blocks from school and let them walk the rest of the way. Those efforts have already started to spread to Rosemount and Shannon Park elementary schools. All three schools participated in a national Walk to School Day last October.

Last week the Rosemount City Council approved new school zone speed limits around both RES and SPES.

Lindahl said the city could do more to promote the trails that exist and provide online tools to help residents plan routes.

The city has already held a meeting with representatives of local businesses and schools to talk about how the trail system could work better. Lindahl plans to hold a second open house June 2 to allow public review of a draft plan and hopes to bring a final plan to the Rosemount City Council by July 20.

Just what happens then depends on what money the city has available to get things done.

"We're hoping that the plan is going to produce a tool box for the city to use in implementing whatever recommendations come along," Lindahl said.