One of my favorite summer activities is watching all the new bike infrastructure projects as they progress through various stages of construction. There’s a lot happening in 2016, but one of the projects I’m most excited about is the Mississippi River Regional Trail-Spring Lake Park Reserve Segment in Nininger (which I had never heard of before writing this post).
Mississippi River Regional Trail
The Mississippi River Regional Trail is a planned 27-mile trail connecting South Saint Paul to Hastings, much of which is already in place, and the Spring Lake Park segment is under construction this summer. The prospect of being able to ride all the way from South Saint Paul to Hastings completely on trails is exciting.
If you’ve never experienced the portions of the MRRT that have already been built, you’re missing out. The regional trail starts at Kaposia Landing in South Saint Paul, where there is a pleasant enough trailhead. The trail follows the Mississippi River to the south, and for much of the way the trail is sandwiched between a freight railroad and the river, which results in a pretty unique experience. And not just because you can smell the regional wastewater treatment plant across the river in Newport.
There’s a segment between about S 65th Street and Cahill Avenue where the trail is adjacent to Concord Ave that offers a pretty bland experience – at least compared to the rest of the trail. But the fact that there is a continuous trail throughout is still pretty impressive. Dakota County constructed the Pine Bend Bluffs segment in 2012–2013, and it’s definitely an interesting ride worth checking out.
Spring Lake Park Segment
Now in 2016, Dakota County is mid construction on the Spring Lake Park Reserve segment. The Spring Lake Park segment of this trail is especially noteworthy from an engineering standpoint. The segment includes two substantial bridges over ravines, it carves a notable bench into a limestone rock face, and it required a phenomenal amount of earthwork to weave a trail through the rough terrain.
I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this project as it moves forward. According to the website, construction is supposed to be complete by the end of 2016.
As a final note, the City of Saint Paul and Dakota County are collaborating on a project to extend the regional trail system north from Kaposia Landing through Saint Paul to Harriet Island. The trail was formerly known as the mouthful “Harriet Island to South Saint Paul Regional Trail”, but has recently been renamed (along with Lilydale) the “Robert Piram Regional Trail”, which is vastly less helpful geographically but is at least shorter than the previous name. According to the project website, construction is scheduled to begin in 2017.