Bloomington is expected to give the final approval needed to proceed with plans for the short Intercity Trail.
As trails expand across the Twin Cities area, there's been a noticeable gap in the network in Richfield and Bloomington. A project to change that is expected to get a boost Monday, when the Bloomington City Council considers a resolution to support development of the Intercity Regional Trail.
Just over 5 miles long, the planned trail's shortness belies its significance as a trail link. When complete, it will connect to trails around the Minneapolis lakes, the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail now under construction and the planned 80-mile Minnesota Valley State Trail along the Minnesota River.
Another connection, to Bloomington's 86th Street bikeway, would make it possible to bike to Hyland Lake Park Reserve at the city's western edge.
Bloomington's seal of approval is the last step needed before the trail's draft plan advances to the Metropolitan Council.
"This is a wonderful thing, and very much needed to get Bloomington connected to the regional park systems in the metro area," said Randy Quale, manager of Bloomington parks and recreation.
"This is important not only for leisure, but for [bike] transit."
The Intercity Trail, a project of Three Rivers Park District, is expected to be used by about 130,000 people a year.
Building the trail will cost $7.7 million, with $5.72 million in federal money and the rest coming from the park district. It will be built completely off-street, using public right-of-ways, said Jason McGrew-King, Three Rivers' media relations coordinator.
It would join the Minneapolis Grand Rounds Trail System at Lake Nokomis and run south along the Cedar Avenue corridor to the Hwy. 62 frontage road.
Crossing the highway at Bloomington Avenue, it would run through Richfield's Taft Park and continue south on what is now 12th Avenue S. to 66th Street.
It then would jog east to 76th Street, cross Interstate 494 and run east on American Boulevard to Old Cedar Avenue, down to 86th Street.
While the current project would stop there, the trail eventually will parallel Old Cedar to the Minnesota River, where it is supposed to cross the river to join trails in Dakota County.
How that will happen has not been determined, though a refurbished Old Cedar Avenue bridge is one possibility.
The draft master plan for the trail has been approved by every other governmental unit along the route, including Minneapolis and its park board, Richfield and Hennepin County. Assuming the Met Council approves the draft master plan, it would go back for a final vote to the Three Rivers board.
Trail design is expected to occur in 2013, with construction beginning in 2014. The trail should be complete by 2017.
Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380 Twitter: @smetan