Mississippi River Trail project nearly done

Published 9:31 am Thursday, May 28, 2015

ST. PAUL — The final phase of a three-year project installing signs to mark the 800-mile Mississippi River Trail in Minnesota is expected to be complete by July 2015.

Minnesota Department of Transportation crews and contractors will install 640 signs from the Twin Cities to Itasca, according to Liz Walton, project manager. Signs were installed along the route in southeastern Minnesota in 2013, and in the Twin Cities Metro area in 2014.

“The Mississippi is one of the world’s great rivers and it’s exciting to offer people a chance to see and experience the river, whether for just a few hours or on a multi-day trip,” Walton said. “The signs will help cyclists navigate the route much easier. At the same time, signs alert motorists there may be bicyclists on or near the road.”

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The trail runs from the headwaters in Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota to the Iowa border. Minnesota’s route is on roads, paths and trails along the river with options that include sections of the Paul Bunyan and Heartland state trails and sometimes both sides of the river.

The project involved MnDOT and many partners, including cities, counties, Department of Natural Resources, National Park Service and the Mississippi River Parkway Commission.

Two ribbon-cutting events will commemorate the project completion this summer. The events are set for Aug. 27 in Itasca State Park and Aug. 31 in St. Paul. The events coincide with the inaugural 470-mile Headwaters to Hills bicycle ride from Aug. 26 to Sept. 2. For more information about the ride, go to www.bikemn.org/headwaters-to-hills.

“Completing the project is a reason to celebrate what MnDOT and its partners accomplished,” Walton said. “Many MRT cities worked hard to become bicycle friendly.  They invite residents and visitors to enjoy the river and what their communities have to offer, all at the intimate pace of a bicycle.”