66th Street east of Concord Boulevard, Inver Grove Heights
Type: Public recreational Size: 770 square feet Cost: $268,800
Developer: Dakota County Parks Department
Details: After working with Inver Grove Heights on the project, Dakota County's Parks Department is proceeding with construction of a new Mississippi River Regional trailhead facility near the city's restored Rock Island Swing Bridge pier.
The building will have bathrooms as well as a small canopied plaza that includes benches, kiosks, drinking fountain and a bike rack for users of the trail, which eventually will stretch 27 miles from South St. Paul to Hastings.
The trailhead is a just a few hundred feet from the swing bridge pier, for which $2.4 million was spent to save and restore a former Mississippi River railroad bridge that was set for demolition. It's also part of a planned Inver Grove Heights city park called Heritage Village.
The restored pier opened last year without any parking, and under an agreement with the city, the county's trailhead improvements will include a 30-space parking lot that could be used by visitors both to the pier and to the future city park.
The park's master plan calls for two more buildings that would be arrayed in the 80-acre recreational area: a 5,700-square-foot, multipurpose building that could be used for weddings and other events, and a picnic shelter. The plan also calls for relocating a historic schoolhouse and town hall there.
This spring, Inver Grove Heights approved plans to repave 66th Street starting about a quarter mile from Concord Boulevard and ending at a 650-foot trail that will lead up to the pier. Work on that project was scheduled to get underway this week.
The trailhead facility's design by Partners & Sirny Architects follows a railroad theme chosen by the city to inform the design of the public buildings. Agricultural, water transportation and industrial themes were considered but ultimately discarded.
An uninterrupted stretch of the bike trail runs from Kaposia Landing Park in South St. Paul through Inver Grove Heights to Hwy. 52. Work on connecting it to another stretch running west from Hastings into Nininger Township is to be completed by the end of next year.
Don Jacobson is a St. Paul-based freelance writer. He can be reached at 651-501-4931.