The Friends of the Mill Towns Trail are excited about projects that may come to fruition by this time next year. I attended a meeting last night in Dundas with some of the Trails faithful describing what’s next for the trail.
There are 3 projects on the horizon. A bridge will be erected across the Cannon River in Northfield near Walgreen’s connecting to an underpass of Hwy 3. Some additional trail will be built west of Cannon Falls and another bridge will be built in Faribault which will include underpass access for both Hwys. 21 and Hwy 3 north of town. This is exciting stuff for trail enthusiasts. They have worked tirelessly to raise money to complete a trail providing the missing link between Mankato and Red Wing.
Money has come from several sources. The Northfield Bike tour this past weekend, as part of the Defeat of Jesse James Day celebration, netted nearly $16,000, two thirds of which will go to the Mill Towns trail. Over 1300 riders took part. Hats off to the Northfield Rotary club for organizing the event and for their generous donations over the years to the trail group. Local initiatives and cooperation are very effective in leveraging federal dollars and grant money. The trail received a federal grant several years ago. State money from the capital bonding bill brought in about $650,000 from the last session. And the DNR, an advocate for completion of the trail, has recently come through with lottery money for the trail.
There is still much to be done. Accessing right of ways, purchasing abandoned rail, completing trail heads and facilities, and maintaining existing trail is costly and involves long term commitment. The economic and recreational benefits for towns like Dundas and Northfield are worth the effort. We should all get behind these types of partnerships.
For more info about the trail: http://www.milltownstrail.org/