Construction on a 1-mile stretch of Plymouth’s Northwest Greenway trail system is expected to start this summer.
The system, the culmination of some 15 years of planning and acquiring land through the suburb, will be built over the years in phases. But starting this July, crews will start to build the 1-mile, 12-foot-wide asphalt trail that will go eastward from Vicksburg Lane to near Juneau Lane, opening to bikers and pedestrians this fall.
“It’s exciting,” said Diane Evans, the parks and recreation director. “It’s been many years in coming.”
On March 24, the City Council approved construction bids to Rosti Construction of Minnesota for about $489,000 with construction expected to start in July and opening, weather-dependent, by the end of September.
“It’s just a huge bonus for the residents of Plymouth … and a great amenity to those who pass through the corridor,” said City Council Member Judy Johnson, whose ward contains the greenway. “When it’s done, you’ll be able to get all the way to Minnehaha Falls. We’re starting something significant.”
In 2006, voters approved a $9 million referendum request for the city to buy 2.5 miles of wetlands and trees and do construction. Every year, the city added more land either by buying properties or acquiring land as a byproduct of new development. By 2009, the city said it had acquired about half the land it needed for the project. Now, the city has less than 5 acres left to acquire for the 350-acre nature corridor preserved from any future development.
The new 1-mile trail done this year will snake through wooded areas in the 350-acre nature preserve, with crews trying to preserve as many trees as possible, Evans said. Construction originally was planned to begin last year, but was postponed to get more public input and to open bids in the winter to save money.
In 2016, the trail is expected to be built from Vicksburg Lane westward to the Plymouth Dog Park, including a pedestrian bridge over Vicksburg Lane. Other sections branching off it and a reconstructed boardwalk below County Road 47 are also in the plans.
The whole trail system could be complete within five years with plans calling for the greenway to stretch from Wayzata High School and the Elm Creek Playfield to Camelot Park, connecting to Medicine Lake Regional Trail, which connects to Elm Creek Park Reserve.
The trail system will add to the more than 140 miles of city, state and regional trails that already go through Plymouth.
“We have a world-class system; it’s going to be beautiful,” said Johnson, who was on the City Council back in 2000, when the city first began discussing the idea of preserving wetlands and wildlife areas in the northwest side of the city as it was becoming developed. “It’s kind of cool that cities like Plymouth are putting in these great amenities.”