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Work will start soon on new trail section

Expect construction to begin later this month on the east section of the Mississippi River Regional Trail in Nininger Township.

After years of discussion between the Dakota County Board of Commissioners and the township, sometimes heated, and the awarding of a $1 million from federal officials, the 3.4 mile project is about to commence.

At its regular meeting this week, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners award the contract for this portion of the trail to Frattalone Companies Inc. in a bid amount of $998,144.51. Three others companies also submitted bids for the project - all were less than the engineer's estimate of $1.237 million.

The trail will begin in the Spring Lake Park Reserve and extend cross country through wooded areas and fields to County Road 87 (Lock Boulevard), where it will continue along the south side of the road to County Road 42. There, it will connect with the existing city trail system at Monroe Street

As of earlier this summer, the county has legal possession of the right-of-way needed for the trail. Negotiations are continuing with several property owners, but construction of the trail con proceed, according to Dakota County engineer Mark Krebsbach.

The county is receiving Federal Transportation Enhancement funding for the construction of the trail. Federal funds can cover up to 80 percent of the construction, but are capped at $762,533 for this project.

The county board determined the alignment of the trail in Nininger Township almost two years ago after almost nine years of study and after the county first recommended County Road 42 for the trail alignment . Commissioners also asked staff to complete a feasibility study along a portion of 140th Street. The Nininger Township Board of Supervisors gave its approval to the alignment in July 2008

In its approved resolution in October, 2008, the commissioners approved this alignment citing the lower speed and volume of vehicles on the road, as well, as the option of utilizing the natural resources of the ark and private lands to increase the recreational quality.

However, there was, and is opposition to this alignment of the trail section. Several residents, including Sharon and Terry Avent, David and Maureen Fasbender and Harrison Benjamin, questioned the recommendation and have been represented by Hastings attorney Harvey Jones. They noted that 11 years ago the preferred option was along County Road 42, and this option presented safety concerns.

Completion of this trail section is expected by next spring.