(ABC 6 News) – Traveling without a vehicle is about to get a little easier in Albert Lea, as an old railroad is becoming a new trail for the community.
Albert Lea is one of 13 cities and counties in Minnesota to receive planning assistance from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the city says it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The foundation of this new hiking trail – what was once a former Union Pacific railroad will soon be a paved trailhead, with parking lots for visitors and even kiosks for those enjoying the trail.
The nearly 15 mile long trail would cross Hartland to Albert Lea and connect to the Blazing Star State Trail.
“Between the two trails it will give a nice destination for bikers to come and park at the park where it was now and you’d probably be 10 to 14 miles to the state park,” Recreation Director Bob Furland said. .
But it’s more than just a trail to keep people active
“This is a very important project for the city because it would connect many of our neighborhoods to where people work, play, go to school or other amenities like downtown,” said Director of Communications Engagement and Enrichment Cathy Malakowsky.
For those without a car in the community. Everyday errands like groceries are extremely difficult.
With this new trail, people will be able to easily and safely get to where they need to go, with no transportation required.
“It will just give a safe path for families and children to get to school and to their play areas,” Furland said.
Under a $400,000 planning assistance contract, a team of consultants will work with the city and county of Freeborn to determine funding, timing and planning.
“We will help develop an action plan for each community and the next steps for obtaining funding and we will help identify grant opportunities for them to apply for in the future and put them on the right path to success. “said MnDOT multimodal planner Jake Rueter. .
Areas like this bridge are assessed by the state, and the best course of action will be given to the city.
“This having the canopy of trees, it just flows downtown and gives you a nice place to get to downtown and the state park” director of recreation
Starting this winter, the Town of Albert Lea, Freeborn County, and state consultant teams will work together and begin planning for the future of this trail.
Next spring and summer they will begin looking for grants to begin construction on the trail.