County trail construction to resume
WORTHINGTON -- A plan more than 20 years in the making will soon become a reality with the recent selection of a contractor to begin paving a concrete trail in Worthington by late next month.
The two-mile trail will extend from an existing city-developed trail through Olson Park north along Crailsheim Drive to Oxford Street, then east along the Worthington Country Club property before linking to another existing trail along Park Avenue.
Along the way, the trail will offer two walkways into the Glenwood Heights addition, two accesses to Worthington Middle School and three walkways into the Homewood Hills subdivision.
Since both Crailsheim Drive (County State Aid Highway 10) and Oxford Street (CSAH 35) are county roadways, the trail became a county project. In 2009, the county secured a $750,000 federal transportation grant earmarked for enhancement projects.
"It could be for trails, to restore old buildings or do native plantings of prairie flowers," Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said. "A lot of times, these funds end up being used for trail-type work."
Civil Ag Group of St. James was awarded the bid to complete the trail at a cost of $976,474. Schnieder said County State Aid dollars will make up the difference in cost.
"(The grants) never cover 100 percent of the costs," he added.
Civil Ag Group is expected to begin work on the trail in late July, with completion by late August or early September.
"We'd like to have it done before Labor Day weekend if we could," said Schnieder, adding that turf establishment may be done this fall depending on the status of the city's ban on non-essential watering.
The trail project on Worthington's west side is hoped to improve safety along the two highways, where speed limits range from 40 to 55 miles per hour.
"The farther you can separate people from the traffic, the better off you are," Schnieder said. "By having the trail off the road surface it puts you 17 to 20 feet away from traffic on the road, rather than walking 5 feet from the traffic going past."
"If people feel safe, they're more inclined to use the trails," he added.
The project included the cooperation of numerous entities, from District 518 to the Worthington Country Club and nine property owners.
"We tried to do as much as we could with the existing right of way," Schnieder said. "Overall, everybody was fairly cooperative."
The trails will be primarily for walking, bicycling and rollerblading, and motorized vehicles such as mopeds, motorcycles and golf carts will not allowed on the paths. The exception is motorized wheelchairs.
The trails will consist of concrete paving, and Schnieder said there will be areas where manhole covers will need to be installed in the actual trail.
"(It) isn't the best, most desirable, but with the sewer lines there, we didn't have many options," he said.
While the trail is still more than two months from completion, Schnieder said Tuesday that a lot of people are already utilizing the trail area.
"We've seen people using the gravel surface -- when it hasn't been raining for a few days," he said with a laugh.
Schnieder said the new trail is "just the next step" in creating a recreational trail throughout Worthington.
"The city of Worthington and Nobles County have been discussing ways of making connections with trails around town for 20 years," he said. "It provides (pedestrians) a nice, safe place to walk. There's a lot of positive uses for this particular trail, once we get things paved."
In the future, Schnieder envisions additional trail connections to Minnesota West Community and Technical College, and perhaps a trail on the north side of Lake Okabena from Centennial Park to Sailboard Beach.
"That's the only section where there isn't an off-road trail," he said.
Dwayne Haffield, Worthington city engineer, said there are plans to complete a sidewalk connection this year to extend the existing path from Sailboard Beach to Lake Avenue, near Eighth Street and Seventh Avenue. Aside from that segment, there are no other extensive trail plans at this time.
"There's nothing in our five-year capital improvement plan for additional trails right now," Haffield said.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is putting in a trail along the new Minnesota 60 from Nobles Street to Armour Road, and that project is planned for completion this year, weather permitting.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.