MnDOT honored for Miss. River TrailPublished 9:45am Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The Minnesota Department of Transportation received an award for its Mississippi River Trail bikeway. The 800-mile route closely follows the Mississippi River from the headwaters at Itasca State Park near Bemidji to the Iowa border.
The accolade, the National Planning Achievement Award for Transportation Planning from the American Planning Association, was announced Monday.
“The Mississippi River Trail bikeway connects highways and off-road trails that already exist and repurposes them to provide a different opportunity for bicyclists,” said Tim Mitchell, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. “This effort required contributions from private businesses, elected officials, bicyclists and state and local road and trail authorities.”
Minnesota is the first state to develop a comprehensive plan for bicycling along the Mississippi River. The trail passes through about 70 cities, 20 counties, 90 townships and two reservation and tribal lands. The proposed national trail extends 3,000 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.
The trail’s signage in Minnesota is currently intermittent along the bikeway. A comprehensive sign plan is in the final stages. Additional signs will go up along the route during the next three years to further increase awareness of the bikeway and assist bicyclists with navigation.
Trail advocates in the Albert Lea area hope that trails to Hartland and to Hayward someday will connect with trails in the Austin area and in 20 years with trails in the Lanesboro area and possibly the Mississippi River Trail.