By Lynda Jensen
WINSTED, MN The state senate’s capital investment committee recently paid a visit to the area, talking with local state trail improvement advocates, who would like to see the Luce Line Trail paved between Winsted and Cedar Mills, along with a horse treadway added beside the trail.
Advocates would like to see improvements on the 10-foot wide path, 25 miles long, that would enhance economic flow among the cities, which include Winsted, Silver Lake, Hutchinson, and Cedar Mills, the latter of which is located in Meeker County on the west side of Hutchinson.
With enthusiasm, the City of Winsted has already begun paving a small portion of a city trail last week that represents a branch of the Luce Line located in the city limits, running through the heart of the city.
This followed the footsteps of a master trail plan that was adopted by Winsted last year. Hutchinson also has a master trail plan in place, and Silver Lake is working on theirs.
Among those who met briefly with senators Sept. 17 were Silver Lake Mayor Bruce Bebo, Herald Journal publisher Chris Schultz, and Dolf Moon, director of parks in Hutchinson.
Schultz predicted the inflow of thousands of visitors who could potentially bring prosperity and commerce to the area.
“It could be like having another three Winstocks per year, and another craft fair per month in Hutchinson,” he said, citing working statistics on trails that are traveled in the Three Rivers Park District.
Visiting state parks and trails is one of the top five activities for tourists in Minnesota, contributing more than $200 million annually.
Senators toured the area and asked questions, such as whether the trail could eventually be connected to the Greenleaf State Park north of Hutchinson.
Sen. Steve Dille (R-Dassel) is a member of the committee who is supporting legislation seeking $2.5 million from bond proceeds to the DNR for paving the Luce Line, and developing a parallel horse treadway for that length.
Another key legislator is Rep. Ron Shimanski (R-Silver Lake).
If improved, the trail could be used for horseback riding, as well as for snowmobilers, hikers, bikers, cross country skiing, and inline skating.
Improvements to the trail would benefit both Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities and could potentially be connected to the Dakota Rail, to the south, and possibly Greenleaf State Park, northwest of Hutchinson, according to improvement proponents.
A variety of improvements have already been put in place in anticipation of paving this section of trail including substantial gravel base upgrades to the trail, a number of underpasses within the City of Hutchinson, an overpass over Highway 22 east of Hutchinson, and an underpass under Highway 7 east of Hutchinson.
The City of Winsted has initiated a process with the DNR to obtain a piece of property that would close the only gap of the trail along the Cedar Mills-Winsted section.
The cost for paving and the horse treadway improvements would total $2.5 million.
About the Luce Line
The Luce Line is a state-established trail maintained by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources since 1976.
It stretches 63 miles from the western metro suburb of Plymouth to the small town of Cosmos in west-central Minnesota.
The trail runs on a former railroad line and is available for biking, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and skiing.
From Plymouth west about 30 miles to Winsted, the surface is limestone. There is also a parallel treadway for horseback riding. Snowmobiles are allowed on the trail west of Stubb’s Bay Road. From Winsted west to Cosmos, the trail has a natural surface.
Want to contact legislators about the Luce Line?
Key legislators for the Luce Line to be included in a state bonding bill are State Sen. Steve Dille and State Rep. Ron Shimanski.
For those who wish to contact Dille, his information is as follows: (651) 296-4131, (651) 296-9441 FAX, and e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact information for Rep. Shimanski is as follows: (651) 296-1534, (651) 296-3918 FAX, and e-mail: email@example.com.