Committee trying to help move Heartland Trail along
A local committee made up of officials from Detroit Lakes, Frazee, Becker County, the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce and two snowmobile clubs is doing everything it can to help speed the process of building the Heartland Trail extensi...
A local committee made up of officials from Detroit Lakes, Frazee, Becker County, the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce and two snowmobile clubs is doing everything it can to help speed the process of building the Heartland Trail extension between Frazee and Detroit Lakes.
“It’s the DNR’s trail,” said Frazee Mayor Hank Ludtke, “we’re trying to work with them the best we can to move this forward in a logical and productive manner.”
For instance, committee members are talking to property owners along Highway 10 about the possible impacts of the new trail, said Detroit Lakes Alderman Bruce Imholte. “We agreed to talk to those folks,” on behalf of the DNR, he said.
One major change in the trail route involves the stretch from Frazee to Highway 10, which was originally planned to run between County Road 10 (at the Morningside Motel on Acorn Lake) and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad corridor.
BNSF has declined to allow the use of its right-of-way for the trail, so the route will be shifted to the other side of County Road 10 and will run on that road’s right-of-way, according to Frazee City Administrator Jonathan Smith.
A DNR official erroneously said in an earlier story that Burlington Township didn’t want to host the trail along County Road 10. It was actually Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway that did not want to host the trail on its right-of-way, Ludtke said. Burlington Township is in full support of the heartland trail extension, he added.
“The township has no issue with this, they see it as economic development not only for Frazee and Detroit Lakes, but also for Burlington Township, especially with everything going on with Detroit Mountain,” Ludtke said.
Local officials would like to speed up the Heartland trail project for several reasons: The $2.7 million in state bonding funds was designed for the 2015 construction season, and will lose out to construction inflation as time goes on.
And the project stalls a bit every time a key elected official or staffer at a state agency leaves, and a newcomer has to be brought up to speed on the project.
“We’re coming up to 11 years of work on the Heartland extension and we’re hoping things move faster, although now we’re probably not looking at construction until 2016,” Ludtke said.
On the other hand, the Ottertail River Water Trail that was designated through Frazee a half-dozen or so years ago “took 25 years,” to complete, and that route was defined by the river itself, Ludtke said with a laugh.
The Heartland Trail extension leaves Detroit Lakes in the vicinity of Highway 10 and East Shore Drive, where a tunnel takes it under Highway 10 to route it along the unused corridor where Highway 10 used to run, between the railroad tracks and the existing Highway 10.
It will squeeze between Acorn Lake and Highway 10, and was to have followed County Road 10 from Acorn Lake into Frazee.
Now it will have to cross or tunnel under County Road 10. Some of the challenges there include wetlands on both sides of the road and the crossing of a lake inlet, Smith said. The trail will run along the south side of County Road 10 before entering Frazee.
It will for the most part follow the right of way of county or state roads, so more land acquisition will not be necessary, Smith said.
It will enter Frazee either on the Fifth Street railroad crossing or the main Lake Street crossing. City officials have waited for the route into town to be finalized before starting construction on the in-town portion of the trail, Smith said.
The multi-use trail will be used by bicyclists and hikers in the warmer months and snowmobilers in the winter months.
It will eventually connect to the Heartland Trail in Park Rapids, and extend to Moorhead.