By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Development of the first 950 feet of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail in McLeod County has begun.
Preliminary work has been completed, according to Chris Schultz of the McLeod County Rail Authority.
The rail authority has spent $13,000 to have the work completed, Schultz said.
Paving has not yet started, and McLeod County Parks Administrator Al Koglin said it is likely it won’t be done until spring.
The 950 feet of trail extends the developed portion from the Carver County line to the first road approach in McLeod County, along McLeod County Road 23 east of Lester Prairie.
Schultz said it is his understanding that the rail authority is in the process of negotiating a lease agreement with the property owner for access to the road approach.
Koglin explained that the McLeod County Rail Authority, which owns the portion of the Dakota Rail corridor in McLeod County, applied for a Legacy grant to develop the trail to McLeod County Road 1 on the west side of Lester Prairie.
The rail authority will not find out for six to eight weeks whether the grant application will be funded, Koglin said.
Carver County trail progress
Carver County Parks Director Marty Walsh said most of the paving on the 5.5 mile section of Dakota Rail Regional Trail from Mayer through New Germany to the McLeod County line has been completed.
Work is progressing on bridge structures, which are expected to be completed this year.
Walsh said some paving remains on the western end of the project. That may be completed this year, but it will depend on the weather, because the end of the construction season is approaching.
Walsh said it is likely that some work on the project will remain to be completed next spring.
Some items, such as final grading and seeding, and installation of signs, have not been completed yet.
Work on the parking lot and trail head in New Germany was underway last week.
Walsh noted that the portion of the trail west of Mayer is not yet open to the public.
A grand opening for the final section of the trail in Carver County will be scheduled some time in 2013, Walsh said.
He added that two areas of note will be scenic overlooks; one located east of the Crow River bridge near Mayer, and the other near the Crane Creek bridge west of New Germany. Both locations will include benches.
Sunram Construction is the primary contractor on the project.