Anoka County Board backs Mississippi River Trail as U.S. bike route

The Anoka County Board is supporting state efforts to have the Mississippi River Trail through Anoka County designated a U.S. bike route.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Transportation
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Transportation

On the recommendation of its Parks and Recreation Committee, the county board adopted a resolution in support of the campaign.

According to County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, the goal is to ultimately create U.S. Bicycle Route 45 from the start of the trail at Lake Itasca all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Such a designation might lead to grant opportunities in the future, Kordiak said.

In a memo to the committee and county board, Karen Blaska, county parks planner, said that parks and recreation department staff have been working with the National Park Service and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) on the development of the Mississippi River Trail through Anoka County and the metropolitan area.

“This section of the trail through the metro area is the last segment to be nominated as a United States bicycle route,” Blaska wrote.

The metro section of the bike trail route runs from Elk River to Hastings.

According to information provided by MnDOT to the county, the state agency has initiated preparation of an application for the designation and needs support from all road and trail authorities along the route to move the application forward.

The trail route in the southeast section of Minnesota was designated in May 2011, while the application for the designation of the segment from the Lake Itasca Headwaters to Elk River was submitted by MnDOT to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) for its consideration in October.

“With Anoka County’s help, the Mississippi River Trail can get another ‘shot in the arm’,” the MnDOT information to the county states.

In working with communities up and down the river, MnDOT stated that “it has discovered grass-root support for taking something that already exists (low use roads, roads with shoulders and off-road trails) to string together a bicycle route with appeal to local, regional, national and even international users.”

In 2012, the Minnesota Legislature named the Mississippi River Trail as the state’s first authorized bikeway.

The U.S. bicycle route system is a national network of bicycle routes, which are nominated for numbered designation by state departments of transportation and are catalogued by AASHTO through the Special Committee on Route Numbering, which is the same committee that assigns numbers to U.S. and interstate highways.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]