Independence, Maple Plain sort through trail alignments

The Independence City Council, Tuesday, Feb. 25, decided to support the city of Maple Plain on the issue of proposed alignments for a regional trail between Baker Park and Carver Park. The council now is waiting to review a joint resolution by the two cities before it is sent to the Three Rivers Park District.

City councilors and planning commissioners from both cities held a joint workshop meeting prior to the regular Independence City Council meeting. The group heard from Three Rivers Planner Ann Rexine about six proposed routes for the trail and then had group discussions about which routes sounded best. At the end of the workshop, Rexine said she needed to hear from both cities by April and added that it would take at least five years for trail construction money to become available.

Workshop attendees reached a consensus about the preferred route for both cities — options A, C and D, said Independence Mayor Marvin Johnson after the Independence Council met.

A Three Rivers Parks map sums up the routes, estimated costs and pros and cons.

Alignment A would head west from Baker Park Reserve along Main Street in Maple Plain until it hits County Road 19, labeled as Alignment C on the map. The trail would head south on County Road 19 until it hits County Road 6. At this point the trail would follow Alignment D, which would take users west on County Road 6 and south on County Road 110.

Alignment A would have advantages of being a direct connection via Main Street to Baker Park, as well as Maple Plain residents and businesses. Main Street has ample right of way, and the trail could utilize the HAWK traffic signal located on Main Street just east of County Road 19. A disadvantage would be the need to relocate utility poles. Estimated cost for this trail portion would be $260,000.

Alignment C would have advantages of a direction connection to Maple Plain residents and businesses via County Road 19, the new HAWK signal on Main Street and a railroad pedestrian crossing. Disadvantages would be the need to relocate utility poles, space constraints in downtown Maple Plain and some private property impacts. Some easements would be required if the trail would be located on the west side of County Road 19. For alignment C, estimated cost would be $850,000.

For Alignment D, advantages would be fewer impacts on private property, the fact that less of the trail would be on aggregate surface and the trail’s direct alignment with other parts of the trail and the park. A disadvantage would be a possible need to purchase easements near County Road 19. Estimated cost would for Alignment D would be $450,000.

The regional trail would take users along a route that would extend for approximately 17 miles between Carver and Baker park reserves. The trail would travel through Minnetrista, Independence and Maple Plain and connect to Minnesota River Bluffs Lake Regional Trail, Dakota Rail and Lake Independence regional trails, Luce Line State Trail, Kingswood Special Recreation Feature, Gale Woods Farm and regional destinations.

In other news

At the Independence City Council meeting, Mayor Johnson got approval for traveling to the National League of Cities Congressional Conference in Washington, D.C., March 8-12. Johnson sits on two National League steering committees, one for small cities and one pertaining to energy, environment and natural resources. The conference will include general sessions, break out sessions and opportunities for city officials to network with members of Congress.

Director Ray McCoy, of West Hennepin Public Safety, praised the 800 megahertz radio system that enabled four agencies to cooperate closely during a school bus incident on Feb. 20. A First Student school bus got stuck on a Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad track at Valley Road north of Highway 12 at 4:30 p.m. The students were brought to their homes safely during heavy, wet snow through of the combined efforts of WHPS, Orono Schools, the Independence Public Works Department, Hennepin County Communications Dispatch and First Student.

McCoy said it was important that someone called 911 right after the bus got stuck. WHPS was able to get the railroad to stop trains immediately, thus enabling Public Works to bring in a road grader to get the bus off the tracks. In another incident a few weeks ago, no one called 911 when a taxi cab got stuck on a railroad tracks in Independence. A train came and demolished the cab. If someone had called 911, WHPS would have had time to stop the trains.

After the meeting, City Administrator Toni Hirsch shared a compliment from Independence resident Tom Young about the performance of the Independence Public Works Department. He said in a Feb. 25 email to Hirsch: “The Independence Public Works crew gets an A+ for their excellent service during this miserable winter. More than once my road has been the only road plowed on my 35-mile commute to work in St. Paul. Let them know their work is appreciated.”

Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]