The Twin Cities is connected by a vast system of regional trails. But reaching them by foot or on two wheels can sometimes be a challenge amid speeding cars in auto-oriented suburbs.
That trip to the trail may become less intimidating in some western suburbs this summer, however, after Three Rivers Park District installs bike lanes and off-street trails in a number of neighborhoods. Dubbed “on ramps,” the projects in Bloomington, Richfield, Brooklyn Park, Wayzata and Plymouth aim to remove obstacles to the regional trail system.
“A lot of the complaints we had received [are], ‘We like the regional trails, we just can’t get to it from our home, or from wherever’ — that they would have to drive and try to find a parking lot,” said Josh Bowe, a civil engineer with Three Rivers.
The projects, each of which is slightly different, are expected to cost about $1.35 million altogether — largely funded through a federal grant, with additional funds coming from the cities and Three Rivers.
In Brooklyn Park, for example, engineers plan to reduce part of 63rd Avenue from four lanes to three, adding a turning lane and new lanes for bicyclists. That will help people reach the Crystal Lake Regional Trail, which runs northwest starting in Robbinsdale and may one day extend up to Maple Grove.
Jeff Holstein, Brooklyn Park transportation engineer, said he expects the road changes will also cut down on speeding cars.
“Even though it’s posted at 30 [miles per hour], people tend to drive a little bit faster than that,” he said.
The new trail in Bloomington is part of a larger project to connect Lake Nokomis and the Minneapolis Grand Rounds trail system with the Minnesota River. Three Rivers and the city of Bloomington are planning to construct off-street trails along Old Cedar Avenue, leading to the newly rehabbed Old Cedar Avenue Bridge — a bike and pedestrian bridge across the Minnesota River.
The portion of the trail toward Lake Nokomis was completed in the past several years. But there is still no path extending down to the bridge.
“That segment that we’re building is definitely a missing piece for a long Minneapolis to Dakota County off-street bikeway,” Bowe said.
Another connection to the Nokomis-Minnesota River trail will be constructed in Richfield. The on-street bike lane will run along 70th Street from Lyndale Avenue to approximately Old Cedar Avenue.
Farther west, two additional bikeways will connect to the Luce Line trail, a 63-mile trail extending from Plymouth to Cosmos.
In Wayzata, an on-street bike lane on Ferndale Road will run from the Dakota Rail Regional Trail in downtown Wazyata to the Luce Line. In Plymouth, an off-street trail on Fernbrook Lane North will connect County Road 6 with the Luce Line.
“It’s important for residents and users of those regional trail facilities to have safe ways to access them,” said Amy Marohn, a civil engineer with the city of Bloomington. “You don’t necessarily want to have to drive to a parking lot to be able to go for a bike ride.”