Cedar Lake Regional Trail is completed at last

  • Article by: TASNIM SHAMMA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 4, 2011 - 7:07 PM

Last segment of the 20-year project connects western suburbs to West River Parkway.

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A view of the Cedar Lake Trail in 2005 as a cyclist traveling east toward downtown Minneapolis crossed a bridge on the north end of Cedar Lake.

Photo: Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune

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After nearly 20 years of planning and construction, the Cedar Lake Regional Trail -- connecting western suburbs to the West River Parkway in Minneapolis -- was completed late last month.

Construction on the last mile of the trail, through downtown, began in July 2010 and was expected to be the most expensive mile, at $1 million to $2 million.

The trail was a novel idea when first proposed because of its two one-way bike trails, according to Dave Carlson, who bikes the trail several times a week. Carlson is also chair of the Hennepin County Bicycle Advisory Committee and was on the original task force that planned the trail.

"Over half of Minnesota bikes, and getting people out on trails reduces automobiles [on the road] and the taxes associated with wear and tear on the roadway," said Nick Mason, chair of the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Mason said the project faced many hurdles, including the Minnesota Twins' decision in 2007 to build a stadium on the proposed path of the trail.

Target Field opened last year and is now noted as the most biked-to ballpark in the country, attracting 300 bicyclists for an average game and around 500 for major games.

Dorian Grilley, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, said the trail's last segment would prove to be "worth every penny" because it connects to several of the state's major trails and allows access to the river and beyond.

Although the project faced opposition and roadblocks at several stages, it has enjoyed the support of many city council members and county commissioners who hope to maintain Minneapolis' reputation as one of the top bicycling cities in the country.

City Council Member Lisa Goodman's office said a grand opening celebration is planned for 5 p.m. June 14 between the Federal Reserve Bank and the river on the West River Parkway.

Tasnim Shamma • 612-673-7603 Twitter: @TasnimS

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