Construction will start next year on a 10-foot-wide bike-pedestian path connecting Apple Valley and Burnsville along the north side of County Road 42.
The new two-mile trail will extend from Elm Street in Apple Valley to Nicollet Avenue in Burnsville. It will end within walking distance, by sidewalk, of the Burnsville Center.
It is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016.
The road passes apartments on the south side, townhouses on the north side, small commercial businesses, a community center, churches and Burnsville Center.
With all that, "it seemed like a great place to provide a new trail," said John Sass, manager of the project for the county. Currently pedestrians walk in the street or on the grass boulevard.
"It's definitely a needed project," Sass said.
Running beside one of the county's busiest east-west routes, the new trail will function like a transportation route as opposed to a shaded park trail.
Along some segments, retaining walls will be built to contain slopes. Fencing placed on top of the walls will separate the trail from the view of the traffic.
All in all, it will make walking and biking along the road safer and more appealing, Sass said.
Once built, the new east-west trail will connect with multiple trails running north and south through the two cities.
The cost is estimated at $3.2 million, with land acquisition an additional $1.1 million. A federal grant of $2.9 million has been awarded to the project.
Bolton Menk, Inc. has been hired by the county at a cost of $409,000 to come up with a construction design. Design costs will be split between the county, Burnsville and Apple Valley.
At some time in the future, the trail will be extended another mile west to connect with a bike-pedestrian trail along County Road 42 west of Hwy. 5, officials say.