Downtown bike trail boosters campaign for new route

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August 11, 2003 // UPDATED 11:01 am - April 30, 2007
By: Ellen Nigon
Ellen Nigon

Signs in Southwest Minneapolis could help Downtown bikers.

Leaning up against trees in the Cedar-Isles-Dean neighborhood in southwest Minneapolis, the signs read: "Help Finish the Cedar Lake Trail Mississippi River Connection -- 3 blocks left."

The signs sport a thermometer -- red up to the $200,000 mark, but still short of $500,000. Next to each sign is a mailbox containing blue informational leaflets.

The Cedar Lake Park Association (CLPA) erected the signs to raise awareness of the trail and complete its final blocks through Downtown. The trail stretches from Hopkins to north of Cedar Lake, currently ending southwest of the Downtown core, near Royalston Avenue and 12th Street.

While the signs seem to ask for money, CLPA erected them more to pressure the city to change three blocks, extending the Downtown segment to the river.

The current trail plan dips between a Burlington Northern railroad trench and street level. The trail would rise out of the trench at North Loop's Washington Avenue bridge. It would then descend back to trench level at North 2nd Street and 4th Avenue North. The trail would then run along 4th Avenue to the river.

The CLPA wants to keep the Cedar Lake Trail in the railroad trench all the way to the River Road.

CLPA literature reads: "Citizens need to act fast before an inadequate plan gets built by the city of Minneapolis. The city plans on spending $2.7 million on a trail that makes bicyclists cross three intersections to get to the Mississippi River. For only $700,000 more, citizens back a plan connecting the existing trail directly to the river."

CLPA President Keith Prussing said a specific rerouting cost is unknown: "The best you can say right now is that there would be several hundred thousand dollars difference. It's more expensive to be below [street level]."

Prussing said he has received donations from private donors. He said funding for the alignment change must be resolved by early 2004. If the city plan sticks, the rest of the trail should open in 2005.