An unofficial strategy meeting on the proposed trail through the MN River Bottoms which, conveniently enough, just flooded

Gary Sjoquist, Dennis Porter, Don YoungdahlFellow MORC members Dennis Porter, Don Youngdahl  and I met with QBP Advocacy Director Gary Sjoquist yesterday at QBP’s HQ in Bloomington to discuss the current situation with the mountain bike trails in the Minnesota River Bottoms that I blogged about last week.

The MORC Board has not taken a formal position on the proposed paved or ‘finished surface’ trail through the Cedar-to-169 segment (Bloomington refuge corridor), nor have they officially appointed any of us to speak for them. But given the long history that Don, Dennis and Gary have with this issue, I think it’s probably fair to say that the Board is happy to have us working on it. I volunteered to be an informal liaison to the Board.

Our strategy for the next two months is simple: meet with the leaders  we know at the various government agencies and other key organizations to get a better understanding of what they know and their concerns. The new manager of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has been hired and evidently will be starting in August.  In the meantime, we’ll be contacting people at the Parks and Trails Division of the DNR, the Parks and Trails Council of MN, the City of Bloomington, and the MN Division of the Izaac Walton League.

I edited my blog post to make it clearer that website for The Friends of the Minnesota Valley’s Trail Advocacy Group is a separate website from the Friends of the Minnesota Valley website. While Ed Crozier is listed as Director Emeritus of the Friends of the Minnesota Valley, it would appear that his advocacy on this issue has not been embraced by their Board. If true, we need to understand why.

One of the arguments against constructing a paved or ‘finished surface’ trail along the bottom lands of the Minnesota River is that it’s likely to be very expensive to maintain it since the river regularly floods. After the meeting, Don Youndahl and I did a reconnaissance ride from the Bloomington Ferry Bridge trailhead to see the condition of the trail since the flooding that had occurred a week ago.

Don wrote last night in the MORC forum:

Tried a reconnaissance ride from Bloomington Ferry late this morning. Almost no standing water, but still too wet in the low spots. The good news is the flooding has knocked down a lot of the itch-weed. Wait for a few more good drying days, & bring a hand saw. The flood has done it’s usual job on the trail.

MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013

MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013 MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013 MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013 MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013
As you can see, the flooding deposited huge amounts of muck everywhere, including on top of the bridges that cross the smaller streams (bridges that Don, Dennis and other MORC members have constructed and reconstructed many times over the years). If there was a paved or ‘finished surface’ trail through there, the cleanup costs would be significant. It’s not clear which government agency would budget for this regular occurrence.

Griff Wigley and Don Youngdahl Griff Wigley and Don Youngdahl
I took the selfie on the left when Don and I returned to the parking lot. We toasted ourselves afterwards at Zeke’s Place.

3 thoughts on “An unofficial strategy meeting on the proposed trail through the MN River Bottoms which, conveniently enough, just flooded”

  1. Dennis Porter just alerted us to this 2010 Strib article that indicates the expense involved in maintaining a paved road along the MN River:

    Burnsville may throw in the towel on Black Dog Road
    http://www.startribune.com/local/south/97993504.html

    Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune Updated: July 10, 2010 -- 8:21 PM

    The never-ending cycle of flooding and repair — and the expense that comes with it — might come to a halt with Burnsville officials contemplating closing the road for good and building an alternative access road to Xcel’s Black Dog facility.

    Last week’s heavy rains left Black Dog Road in Burnsville under water, another visible reminder of just how much the low-lying road is prone to flooding. It’s an annual rite of spring, too, especially this year, when high water left behind silt on the road up to three feet high in some places and washed away asphalt in others.

    The city has spent $20,000 this year to patch up the eastern segment of the road, which connects Burnsville with Cedar Avenue in Eagan and exists mostly to allow access to Xcel Energy’s Black Dog Energy Plant. The road to the west of the Black Dog Energy Plant to Interstate 35W, however, remains closed because of water damage.

    The never-ending cycle of flooding and repair — and the expense that comes with it — might come to a halt with Burnsville officials contemplating closing the road for good and building an alternative access road to Xcel’s Black Dog facility.

    The city council has given the public works department authority to work on a plan. Bud Osmundson, the city’s public works director and city engineer, unveiled a preliminary plan at a council work session last month calling for 12th Avenue to be extended across a set of railroad tracks in the city’s industrial area, where the road would connect with a higher road that Xcel now uses when Black Dog Road is shut down during flooding.

    Xcel trucks now must travel through Black Dog Park and a residential area to get to the plant when Black Dog Road is shut down.

    Osmundson acknowledged that the upgrade would come with “a high cost,” but he did not specify a number. He indicated that cleaning up the now-closed western stretch of the road could cost $200,000 by the time dirt is hauled away and the road repaved.

    With the thought “that could happen again next year,” he said the city will continue studying the feasibility of putting the plan in place.

    Patti Nystuen, an energy company spokeswoman, confirmed that Xcel is has been working closely with the city and is very much involved in the planning.

    Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768

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