An erosion control project on the Mississippi River Regional Trail at the south end of the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park has been moved up a year by Anoka County.
Originally scheduled for 2014, the project will now be done as soon as possible this year.
Heavy rains this spring and early summer have washed away a bank along the trail by Pleasure Creek, posing a safety hazard to the trail and its users, according to John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director.
At this time fencing has been placed on the western edge of the trail for some 10 to 15 feet where the earth has washed away.
The retaining wall on the east side of the trail has not been affected, VonDeLinde said.
The Anoka County Board’s Parks and Recreation Committee has authorized the parks and recreation department to spend fiscal year 2014 state parks and trail legacy appropriations to engineer and construct erosion control along the trail.
In the meantime, the trail in that area has been closed and a detour put in place until the erosion control project has been completed.
The trail detour begins just below the TH 610 bridge over the park and bikers/walkers will leave the park on Tamarack Street, then go east on 89th Avenue to East River Road, south on East River Road to 86th Avenue then west on 86th to pick up the trail again where the park ends at 86th and Mississippi Boulevard.
For Anoka County, the 2013 Minnesota Legislature appropriated $1,443,000 of the legacy dollars for the first year of the 2013-2015 biennium and $1,455,000 for the second year for a series of projects in the parks and trails system, one of them being restoration, including erosion repair, along Pleasure Creek and the Mississippi River Regional Corridor at the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.
According to VonDeLinde, some $200,000 has been set aside for the erosion project, but use of the legacy funding is flexible and not tied to specific amounts for projects and if the erosion control project costs more than anticipated, then the appropriated dollars can be moved around.
The exact cost of the project won’t be known until an engineering firm, which the county plans to hire right away, prepares a feasibility report, VonDeLinde said.
This is the first step in the process and will spell out the scope of the project, he said.
“That will tell us what we need to do,” VonDeLinde said.
The goal is to have the erosion control project constructed and completed this fall, he said.
Where the erosion has taken place, there is about a 20-foot drop off on the west side of the trail to the Pleasure Creek flood plain below, according to VonDeLinde.
The earth has washed away right up to the paved surface in the segment of the trail which is located just north of 86th Avenue and Mississippi Boulevard.
“This trail is heavily used and we want to expedite the project as quickly as we can,” he said.
In addition, that part of the trail was paved in 1995 and has seen almost 20 years of use, VonDeLinde said.
“We need to accelerate this project,” he said.
For safety reasons, the trail will be detoured in that area, VonDeLinde said.
Even though the state parks and trail legacy dollars were earmarked for the project in 2014, the funds are technically available for spending as of July 1 this year, according to Karen Blaska, county park planner.
Typical practice is to wait until the grant agreements with the Metropolitan Council, which administers the state park and trail legacy dollars, are fully executed before spending any of the money, but the county does not expect to receive the agreements until September or October which is too late to address this issue, Blaska wrote in a report to the county’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
“The Met Council has confirmed the county can expend these funds after July 1, 2013 and will be reimbursed for those expenditures related to the project,” she wrote.
The parks and legacy dollars come from the state sales tax increase that was passed by Minnesota voters in 2008 when they approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the state constitution.
In the Twin Cities area, the funds are targeted at parks and trails projects that have a regional or statewide significance.
According to the Anoka County Parks webpage, the Mississippi River Regional Trail provides a link from Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park through the cities of Coon Rapids, Fridley and Columbia Heights into the Minneapolis parkway system.
In addition, the Mississippi River Regional Trail connects with a variety of other regional trails in the north metro area.
At the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, the trail crosses over the dam walkway – that’s closed right now during the reconstruction project at the dam – and connects to the North Hennepin Regional Trail which leads to Elm Creek Park Reserve.
To the south of the dam, people can connect to Rice Creek Regional Trail West which follows Rice Creek east through the city of Fridley, while the southern end of the trail connects with the city of Minneapolis’ St. Anthony Parkway system.
To the north of the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, the trail continues through Coon Rapids to the city of Anoka.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]