Trail cash nailed down
Gov. Mark Dayton has signed the $846 million bonding bill into law, and it includes funds for the Heartland Trail from Frazee to Detroit Lakes.
“We’re happy,” said Detroit Lakes Alderman Bruce Imholte, who has been a major backer of the project since day one. “We were always figuring (the request) might get cut down a little, but at least we can get things started.”
The original request for the Frazee to Detroit Lakes trail section was $3 million, with another $100,000 for a study on connecting the trail from Moorhead to Hawley. Once completed, the Heartland Trail will stretch from Park Rapids to Moorhead.
The designated $2.7 million for the Heartland Trail project includes both money for the trail between Frazee and Detroit Lakes and the Moorhead to Hawley study, so Frazee and Detroit Lakes will need to find some more funding to fill that $400,000 gap.
Imholte said there are other possibilities, and the cities will be meeting with the Department of Natural Resources in the near future to explore those possibilities.
Though the DNR will have ownership of the trail, the two cities, along with Becker County, have dedicated funds for the project.
Land between the two cities has been secured for the project, and last summer, Detroit Lakes installed a box culvert under Highway 10 east of town to get bike traffic from the north side of the highway — where the Heartland trial will run — to the south side and down along the Detroit Lake scenic overlook.
Imholte said the Heartland Trail project should begin next spring.
“Nature lovers, bicyclists and area business owners have reason to celebrate today’s passage of the bonding bill,” Frazee Mayor Hank Ludtke said Tuesday in a press release.
“We are delighted that the Heartland Trail connection will finally become a reality and we look forward to welcoming the new visitors the trail connection will bring to our region,” he added.
Sens. Kent Eken and Rod Skoe and Reps. Paul Marquart and Ben Lien have been instrumental in including the trail project in the bonding bill, Ludtke said.
“Visitors often ask about trails in the region, and now the Heartland Trail will give them another reason to come up north,” Detroit Lakes Tourism Director Cleone Stewart said. “I hope they will enjoy the trail and stay to check out all of the great hotels, business and restaurants we have to offer.”
The Heartland Trail was just one of the many projects the Legislature approved funding for, with $17.6 million going to parks and trails. The funds will also cover acquiring land and constructing or renovating 13 trails throughout Minnesota.
Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.