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Hot on the trail; What’s new with bike trail construction around Becker County

Anyone inconvenience by road construction this summer knows there's been quite a bit of resurfacing and rerouting in the area, but the road surfaces weren't the only pathways being redone around Detroit Lakes. The city has also been slowly buildi...

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Anyone inconvenience by road construction this summer knows there's been quite a bit of resurfacing and rerouting in the area, but the road surfaces weren't the only pathways being redone around Detroit Lakes. The city has also been slowly building "multi-use" trails next to some of the new roads and road surfaces.

"As we redo streets...MNDot helped us put together a trail component to that," Alderman Bruce Imholte said.

But while one multi-use trail seems to randomly end and another begins in a different location, there is a plan for each of the paths to eventually connect, creating a perfect place for Detroit Lakes families and tourists to use recreationally all year round.

"Most people want to be on the trail--not on the street--when they're doing these things," Imholte said, adding that the city likes to refer to the trails as "multi-use" because they are not just intended for bikers but runners, walkers, rollerbladers, etc. in the summer, spring and fall months as well as cross country skiing and other winter trail activities in the snowy months. The whole idea is to just be more family and tourist friendly, but the trails are are just pieces right now.

"Yes, there's an overall plan, and at some point, these will hook up," Imholte said, adding that they are taking the project in parts as to be economical. "We're trying to move as fast as we can with the money we have."

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So whenever a road is resurfaced, a trail will be built next to it if it's feasible and in the overall trail plan.

Then there's also the money component. Imholte says they build what they can with the money they have, but they can't just up and build a trail around the lake like some have asked.

"We could do that (trail around the lake). We just don't have the resources to do that (all at once)," Imholte said, adding that a round-the-lake trail would probably cost $8 million.

But they're working on it, finding funds where they can.

The trails are funded by a food and beverage tax, which was passed by the city a few years ago, meaning food and beverages purchased in Detroit Lakes have an automatic one percent tax added onto them. The money earned from the tax then goes towards projects like the trail system, which is also partially funded by grants.

Imholte says the food and beverage tax allows the city to build these trails without then having to tax people's properties.

This summer, the city--with the help of MNDot--was able to put in a new trail along Highway 34 as well as along the new frontage road, which stretches from L&M Fleet to Walmart. The new trail follows part of this new frontage road, but proposed plans have the trail following along the entirety of the new road and eventually hooking up with a state trail, the Heartland Trail.

The Detroit Lakes trail system will connect with the state Heartland Trail, which will eventually branch off Detroit Lakes east and west towards Frazee and towards Moorhead, so hikers and bikers alike can explore the city, as well as travel to the neighboring towns on safe trails instead of along the highway.

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"Theoretically, we'd like to see people bike over to Frazee," Imholte said.

And the plan to allow people to do so is in motion. The city will continue the plans to put in these pathways "Either upgrading the trails or putting new ones in," Imholte added.

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