Editorial: A wise vision on bike trail

Published 9:42 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mower County officials are planning wisely as they work to secure land plots over the next few months ahead of asking the state to fund more stretches of the Shooting Star Trail.

County commissioners voted in May to try a new plan to drum up funding from the state: Secure the land the trail would run through in order to show state officials Mower County is ready to finish the project.

The plan isn’t without its pitfalls. County officials still have to figure out how — and where — the bike trail will cross Interstate 90 and landowners still must decide whether to sell their land.

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Yet county officials have talked about letting land owners have input on where the trail should run, and they would be wise to do so.

The plan to secure the last seven miles of trail between Rose Creek and Austin by this fall could bring about the last stretch of construction, accomplish a decades-old Prairie Visions goal and attract more people to ride through town. That means more dollars and healthier people coming to Austin, and for that we salute county officials for their forward thinking.

Though the bike trail project is decades old, Prairie Visions officials and Vision 2020 organizers have sparked renewed interest in connecting Austin to much of southeast Minnesota through its bike trail.

Leaders are already looking to connect the Shooting Star Trail to Albert Lea’s Blazing Star Trail. The city of Austin recently joined several nearby cities in asking the state for $500,000 in funding to finish the Blazing Star Trail from Albert Lea to Austin, which means plans to turn Austin into a biking hub could come to fruition over the next few years.

We recommend landowners work with the county and bike trail enthusiasts to bring the trail home to Austin. Land owners have every right to say “no,” but we urge everyone to at least take part in the discussion.

— Austin Daily Herald, July 6