HJ/EDJune 19, 2006

Dakota Rail trail draft plan available for review

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

The draft master plan for the proposed trail along the Dakota Rail corridor in Carver County is now available for review.

The document will be available at libraries, township offices, Mayer and New Germany city halls, and on the Carver County web site, www.co.carver.mn.us.

The plan includes information about costs, acceptable uses, demand forecasts, maintenance, and natural resource management for the Carver County portion of the corridor.

The Dakota Rail corridor is a scenic, 44-mile corridor that extends from Wayzata to Hutchinson.

The corridor was purchased in 2001 by the Carver County Regional Rail Authority, the Hennepin and McLeod county regional rail authorities, and MnDOT, in order to preserve the corridor for future transportation uses.

The planning process for the 12.4-mile section of the corridor in northern Carver County began in January. Since that time, the county has been gathering input from the public about what uses should be planned for the corridor.

Based upon the input received, allowable uses for the trail will include walking, jogging, bicycling, in-line skating, and dog walking.

Winter snowmobile use may be allowed by permit.

Motorized vehicles, including ATVs, are prohibited on Carver County trails, except by special permit or use agreement.

The report states that, because the corridor is only 16 feet wide, there is not enough room to develop a dedicated equestrian trail.

The report does note that the Luce Line State Trail is designed for equestrian use, and is less than five miles from the Dakota Rail Corridor.

Logical areas for trail head parking facilities would be in the communities of Mayer and New Germany, because the corridor is wider in these areas. All approved parking locations will be shown on trail maps, according to the county.

Trail surface

The Carver County staff recommends paving the entire length of the trail in the county.

Several factors were considered in determining what type of trail surface to use, including:

• input from the public;

• availability of funds;

• the life cycle costs associated with construction and maintenance;

• the determination that a paved surface satisfies the broadest number of trail uses;

• paving the trail does not inhibit winter uses; and

• paving the trail is consistent with Three Rivers Park District plans to pave the section of the Dakota Rail Corridor in Hennepin County.

Carver County was recently notified that it has received federal transportation enhancement funding to pay for a portion of the paving costs.

Who will use the trail?

The report predicts that 60 percent of trail visits will be individuals, and 40 percent will be groups of family or friends.

Based on visitors to Carver County parks, 42 percent of trail users will be residents of Carver County, 30 percent will be regional, 26 percent will come from greater Minnesota, and 2 percent will come from outside the state.

The trail could eventually be connected to other local and regional trails in and around Carver County, according to the plan.

Trail security

Carver County Sheriff’s Office community service officers patrol all Carver County park facilities, and county maintenance staff will be on the trail on a regular basis.

According to the county, a significant part of trail safety and security comes from trail use by community members who report any suspicious activity along the trail.

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