Two missing links will be built this summer in Anoka and Ramsey, filling gaps in bike/pedestrian trails along the Mississippi and Rum rivers, officials say.

The Anoka City Council on Monday approved plans for a $1.37 million segment that will extend bike trails from the city’s Mississippi River Community Park through undeveloped King’s Island to the relatively new Mississippi West Regional Park in Ramsey.

Also this week, work was to start on the last piece of the Rum River trail in Anoka. That quarter-mile segment will run behind City Hall along the Rum to the existing river trail three blocks north, said Greg Lee, city public services director. The project will include two river overlooks, rain gardens with granite benches, interpretive signs and kiosks with trail maps. It will cost nearly $1.54 million, about half paid by a federal transportation grant of $760,000, he said.

The two projects “will complete two of the most important trail systems we have: the Mississippi River Trail and the Rum River Regional Trail,” Lee said.

The 1.5-mile segment that will go across King’s Island and on into Ramsey will be part of the national Mississippi River Trail, which runs from the river’s source in Lake Itasca to New Orleans. The Rum River Trail intersects with the national trail in Anoka.

Busy summer

Work on the King’s Island/Ramsey segment is supposed to start in early September and be substantially done by month’s end.

Before that, the Anoka County Board will be asked to approve a joint powers agreement with Anoka and Ramsey in August. The county has supported the project.

The $1.37 million cost will be covered by the two cities and the county, along with a $440,000 federal transportation grant, officials said. Anoka’s share is about $325,000 and Ramsey’s nearly $270,000, while the county has committed to pay $340,000.

The county hopes to obtain state Legacy Amendment grants in the next few years that would cover its outlay, said John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director.

The trail is an important link that ranks high on grant criteria scales because it connects regional and national bike/pedestrian trail systems, VonDeLinde said.

He said the link also will bring more people to the Mississippi West Regional Park and spur development in the 240-acre site in Ramsey. It now has a short bike trail and a dirt Traprock Street from Hwy. 10 to a boat access ramp, parking lot and two river overlooks. Picnic and play areas and trails may be built in the next three to five years, VonDeLinde said.

Cutting across the island

About a half-mile of the segment will cross King’s Island, a wooded, Mississippi flood plain in the northwest corner of Anoka. River channels meander through the undeveloped area that once had a gravel mine, but now shelters wetlands, leaping deer and an occasional kids’ log fort.

Trail bridges will be built on both ends of the island. Lee noted that the island channel will be dug out this fall and winter to deepen it and restore vegetation on the banks.

The channel restoration will cost about $260,000, to be covered by a Legacy grant, Lee said.

Ramsey Parks Superintendent Mark Riverblood said the King’s Island link “is a very important connection between the two cities and their park and trail systems.” He said local stores and restaurants will also benefit from the bikers pedaling through town. He said the Ramsey City Council has supported the trail and is expected to approve its share of costs under the joint powers agreement next week.

He noted that Ramsey has won another federal grant for $1.2 million to continue the trail northwest from Mississippi West park to the Elk River-Sherburne County line.