Archived Story

Funding secured for segment of bike trail

Published 9:32am Monday, August 1, 2011

AUSTIN — Bike riders can now set their sights on Austin.

The Shooting Star Trail will finally be paved to Rose Creek, as Mower County secured $500,000 in state funding to complete the stretch of trail between Rose Creek and Adams. Earlier this summer, the trail was paved with gravel using a $450,000 grant through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“I’m just thrilled,” said Becky Hartwig, who noted she’s pleased it will finally be blacktopped.

She has been waiting for about a decade for the trail to reach the Rose Pedaler, a gift shop, coffee shop and cabin aiming to attract bikers.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for it,” Hartwig said

The next step is to connect the trail with Austin, something that won’t necessarily be an easy task, Hartwig admitted.

While planning groups have met about the trail’s future, no landowners have been contacted yet.

“Hopefully it will happen sooner than later, but it all takes patience and time,” she said.

Patience has been a must for trail enthusiasts. When the project started in 1993, the initial plan was for the trail to be to Austin in five years, according to Gerald Meier, a member of the Shooting Star Trail Committee.

Early plans have the trail entering Austin near the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, but the route isn’t set in stone. Hartwig said she’s hopeful trail will reach Austin sooner than she originally expected, though she wouldn’t predict a timeframe.

“We’ve got some good people working on it,” she said of County Engineer Mike Hanson and DNR officials.

While County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said he’s pleased with the state funding to advance the trail to Rose Creek, he said he understands some people do not approve of spending money on trails.

Oscarson said the project will open for bids soon, with work tentatively scheduled to be completed in October. Oscarson said the money should be enough to get the trail paved to Rose Creek.