Trail project hits a bumpA plan by the City of Red Wing and a local charitable group to build a trail from Levee Park along the Mississippi River to the east side of Barn Bluff has hit a big snag.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
A plan by the City of Red Wing and a local charitable group to build a trail from Levee Park along the Mississippi River to the east side of Barn Bluff has hit a big snag.
Representatives from the Canadian Pacific Railway have told city officials and the Red Wing Area Fund there isn't enough room on the strip of land between bluff and the river to accommodate both the existing railroad and a proposed walking and biking trail.
"We kind of hit a wall," City Council Administrator Kay Kuhlmann said.
During a recent sit-down, she said, representatives from the rail company said it would be unsafe to build a trail so close to the tracks and the company would not grant the city an easement for construction.
The proposed segment of trail along Barn Bluff would've been part of a longer trail project linking Bay Point and Colvill parks.
In September 2009, the fund agreed to put up $382,000 to pay for trail plans and design work and City Council agreed to have a construction contract for that segment of trail inked by 2015 or it would have to reimburse the fund.
That segment was expected to cost $3 million to $4 million.
The city and fund partnered on Barn Bluff segment of the proposed trail specifically because it would be the hardest part to complete because it is a small congested area.
What the city and the fund will to do next is uncertain.
"It's not dead," city Engineer Jay Owens said of the trail plan. While the recent news is a major setback, he said there are other ways to design the trail.
Members of the fund seemed less encouraged.
"We're at the point where we're asking, 'Where are we and what does this mean?'" Red Wing Area Fund Chair Suzanne Blue said. "Is there any more future in doing any more work on this segment or not?"
Blue said the fund's board will meet in July and will discuss how to move forward and will have conversations with city officials in the near future.
Owens said other options for linking trails along the riverfront include using existing roadways south of Barn Bluff, or the city could construct a boardwalk along the river's edge, although that would likely be quite costly.
Fund member Buck Foot said the organization would have to see if alternatives are feasible or not.
"It would certainly be different from what we have been working on for some time," he said.
Down the road a couple years, Owens said, there's a possibility the Minnesota Department of Transportation could realign the Eisenhower Bridge -- it's scheduled for replacement in 2018 -- which could help free up room for a trail.
The city, and the fund if it chooses, could work on other segments of the larger proposed trail project, Owens said. For instance, the focus could shift to building a trail along the riverfront between Bay Point and Levee Park. Or it could move toward constructing a trail between Colvill and the east side of Barn Bluff.
"There's value to those segments as stand-alone pieces," Owens said.
Kuhlmann said whatever direction the city chooses it should be done in agreement with the Red Wing Area Fund. The city has stopped spending money on trail design and to date $140,000 has been spent, according to city officials.
Foot said it is a shame the project can't go forward as it was planned.
"The concept was a great concept," he said.