Metro-area bicycling and walking enthusiasts will soon enjoy an unbroken connection between the Midtown Greenway and the extensive trail system in the Southwest Corridor. Just two weeks ago, construction began on a trail segment that will connect the westernmost end of the Greenway (at Chowen Avenue) to the current east end of the Southwest LRT Trail (at Beltline Boulevard).
The Hennepin County Regional Railway Authority has owned both the 29th Street Corridor and the Southwest Corridor for some time, but a connecting trail was not built previously because of difficulty in reaching an agreement with the railroad on the trail’s location. HCCRA recently purchased the necessary section of the Canadian-Pacific corridor between Chowen Avenue and Beltline Boulevard and negotiated an agreement with the Twin Cities & Western Railway to cross over its line, clearing the way for construction.
Although HCCRA owns the corridor, the project falls within the jurisdiction of the Three Rivers Park District. Three Rivers’ trail coordinator Boe Carlson says that the trail will serve a much greater purpose than its 3/4-mile length might suggest: “This connection will provide a real benefit from the standpoint of both recreational users and commuters, providing a link around the Chain of Lakes and to the Kennilworth area.” The contractor for the project, Barber Construction Co., Inc., has just completed the paving, and anticipates final completion of the trail this fall if the weather holds; otherwise, the trail will be finished in the spring. All parties predict that the public will be amazed at the result of the trail construction. As Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman points out, “This trail connection project provides yet another example of the Greenway’s potential as a regional asset to forge great connections between neighboring communities.”