The project completes a decade-long initiative to acquire and convert an abandoned rail bed to a regional, multi-use, accessible
destination trail connecting Scott and Carver Counties across the Minnesota River. The project builds on past phases which have
accomplished; a regional trail master plan, most of the needed land acquisition, completion of trail segments that link this trail to the
regional trail networks on both sides of the river, and completion of a segment of trail over Highway 169, a significant barrier on the
Scott County side.
The trail and river crossing initiative was identified as a need and master-planned by Scott and Carver Counties in 2011, and the
abandoned railway was subsequently acquired in partnership with the Metropolitan Council. It was identified and approved as a part of
the regional trail system and as an important component in the Scott and Carver County trail networks to
address several gaps and to build on opportunities. There are limited bike and pedestrian connections in this part of the southwest
metropolitan area due to the barrier presented by the Minnesota River. Additionally, accessible outdoor recreation opportunities are very
limited throughout the Minnesota River Valley in Scott County, despite the large network of state and federal public parks and
conservation lands. The accessible trail will run through the Minnesota Valley landscape, along the Minnesota River, and adjacent to both
the Louisville Swamp Unit of the MN Valley National Wildlife Refuge and the Gifford Lake Unit of the MN Valley State Recreation Area
Finally, the trail project supports pedestrian access from across the western metropolitan area to public and private outdoor recreation
venues that have a statewide draw.
Developing the remaining 2.4 miles of multi-use trail and associated bridges completes the initiative aimed at connecting the regional trail
networks of Scott and Carver County across a major barrier (Minnesota River).