Tag Archives: East Cannon River Trail

Bemidji has earned ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’ status. Why not Northfield?

BikeMN   Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht
I attended the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota‘s (BikeMN) third annual Minnesota Bicycle Summit on Capitol Hill on Monday, as I’m trying to get smarter about the state of bike advocacy in Minnesota and who the players are.  I became a BikeMN member a couple weeks ago and am impressed with all that they’re doing and how well-organized Monday’s Summit was.

Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht (@BemidjiRita) was one of the featured speakers, talking about Bemidji’s new designation as a Bike Friendly Community. From the BikeMN blog in October:

The city of Bemidji was granted the bronze Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designation by the League of American Bicyclists(LAB) on Monday October 22, 2012. The award was the culmination of persistent efforts by many community leaders and advocates including Mayor Dave Larson, Parks & Recreation Director Marcia Larson as well as health, tourism, bicycling, law enforcement, transportation and environmental representatives from the community. BikeMN has been involved along the way and helped in preparing the BFC application.

I think the timing for mounting an effort to gain formal Bicycle Friendly Community designation is right:

Those two items are providing some incentive to figure out how Northfield’s downtown streets should be best managed for bicycling, part of the discussion going on this week on the Parking Management Plan blog.

What’s not clear to me is what city board or commission would be best to consider taking this on. The City of Northfield created a Non Motorized Transportation Task Force (NMTTF) back in 2007 that I think sun-setted a couple years later. Might it be time to create something similar but specifically for bicycling?

Erosion control proving to be a challenge along the East Cannon River Trail

Last Thursday, July 21, a contractor started laying erosion control blankets along the East Cannon River Trail and other areas of construction from the Babcock Park Lift Station & Interceptor Sewer Project.

Erosion control blanket installation, East Cannon River Trail silt fence, East Cannon River Trail silt fence, East Cannon River Trail silt fence, East Cannon River Trail
When biking the trail, however, I noticed that the silt fence, washed out in more than a dozen places a week earlier by the heavy rains (5 inches?) on July 15, had not been fixed. With thunderstorms in the forecast for the weekend, I wrote to City street/engineering staffers Sean Simonson and TJ Heinricy:

Sean/TJ, I noticed yesterday that the silt fence along the East Cannon River Trail has been washed out in many places since last Friday’s heavy rains.  I see the contractor is putting down the erosion blankets rather than repairing the silt fence.   And at the south end of the trail, there’s no silt fence at all along the unpaved section of the trail, with several places where they’ve just pushed dirt up to the river’s edge. With the probability of more thunderstorms this weekend, what’s the plan to remedy this?

I got this email back from Brian Hilgardner, Senior Project Manager, for Bolton & Menk, an engineering consulting firm that works with the City:

Griff, Sean is out of town on vacation, however, I was made aware of your concerns for potential erosion control along the Cannon River Trail.  The Contractor replaced much of the silt fence along the entire corridor approximately three weeks ago.  Obviously, the heavy rains took its toll on some of the silt fence.  The Contractor wasn’t able to get any equipment onto the site to make repairs earlier this week because they would have made conditions worse because the soil was still wet and soft. 

They are currently placing seed/mulch and erosion control blanket to stabilize the entire site.  They will also be repairing silt fence today.  The erosion control blanket is actually a much better and preferred erosion control Best Management Practice (BMP’s) according to the Minnesota Stormwater Manual, and as indicated in my training for Erosion and Stormwater Management Certification.  In fact, silt fence is one of the least preferred, yet still most commonly used because of its lower cost. 

By the end of the day, everything should be stabilized again.  Please call me if you have any further questions or comments. 

I replied to Brian:

Thanks much for your detailed, quick response, Brian. Good to know that it’ll be stabilized by day’s end.

Will that include along the south, unpaved end of the trail by the old Village School?  There’s no silt fence there at all and it doesn’t appear that that section will be ready for erosion blankets for a quite a while… probably until after it’s paved, right?

Brian:

I did instruct the contractor to get silt fence installed on that end today.  You are correct, that end will not be fully stabilized until it is paved, hopefully sometime next week if the weather remains decent.  I appreciate your concern for these issues and please feel free to contact me in the future if you have any comments or questions.

The contractor did fix the silt fence by the end of the day on Friday. I was thrilled. The weather did not "remain decent" however; we got nearly 2 inches of rain in about 30 minutes on Saturday morning. I rode the trail to see the results.

silt fence, East Cannon River Trail silt fence, East Cannon River Trail silt fence, East Cannon River Trail silt fence, East Cannon River Trail
As you can see from the above photos, the silt fence along the unfinished south end of the trail did its job.

Erosion control blankets, East Cannon River Trail Erosion control blankets, East Cannon River Trail Erosion control blankets, East Cannon River Trail
And with a few minor exceptions, the erosion control blankets did their job.

Erosion, East Cannon River Trail Erosion, East Cannon River Trail Erosion, East Cannon River Trail
But on all the inclined areas where the contractor had not placed blankets, the straw/seeding just washed away.  In most places, the repaired silt fence caught the runoff.

I wrote to Brian yesterday:

Brian, Nice work!  The erosion blankets did their job during Saturday’s deluge, with a few minor exceptions.  And the silt fence at the far south end did its job. But all the slightly inclined places where erosion blankets were NOT used, the straw was just washed away/ruined. What’s the plant to fix that?

Brian:

We are actually driving the site right now. We will likely have them overseed the entire project and mulch again. I will keep you posted.

Kudos to Brian and City Hall for the handling of a challenging situation.

The East Cannon River Trail is now paved. However, it’s a dead end, one-mile trail.

paving of the East Cannon River Trail paving of the East Cannon River Trail paving of the East Cannon River Trail
By the end of today, paving will be completed on the East Cannon River Trail (part of the Greenway Corridor). I took these photos late Thursday afternoon.

paving of the East Cannon River Trail paving of the East Cannon River Trail paving of the East Cannon River Trail paving of the East Cannon River Trail
The paved trail currently ends a few hundred feet shy of the old Village School, now owned by the Northfield Hospital (and soon to house 40+ hospital operations employees).  Sean Simonson, Engineering Tech Coordinator for the City of Northfield, told me that in a few weeks, that short segment will be completed and paved as well, connecting to the parking lot of the Hospital operations office building.

The bad news?

When I blogged about the trail back in mid-May, I assumed it would extend all the way to Dundas since the Babcock Park Lift Station & Interceptor Sewer Project involves Northfield taking more shit from Dundas.

Alas, I was wrong.

The south end of the East Cannon River Trail The south end of the East Cannon River Trail 
The trail ends at a swamp just south of the Hospital operations office building. And there are no current plans/funding to extend the trail along the river all the way to Dundas, despite the wording on the Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program page for the East Cannon River Trail that says it’s a "3 mile multi-use trail."

It’s really about one mile. Maybe 1.5.

To get to Dundas from the end of the paved trail (again, in a week or so when it connects to the hospital operations parking lot) you’ll need to take the frontage road (Bollenbacher Drive) along Hwy 3 to Riverview Drive by Perkins, west to Cannon Road, south all the way to County 1, and then west into Dundas where you can then return to Northfield via the Mill Towns Trail.

So we’re a long way from a complete 6-mile loop trail. But it’s a considerable improvement. The East Cannon River Trail now provides trail access to the Babcock Park baseball field, the Northfield Ice Arena, and all the businesses in the area.

East Cannon River Trail now under construction. Will it be paved?

Construction of East Cannon River Trail in Northfield Construction of East Cannon River Trail in Northfield Construction of East Cannon River Trail in NorthfieldEast Cannon River Trail map
As the Babcock Park Lift Station & Interceptor Sewer Project nears completion, construction of the East Cannon River Trail (part of the Greenway Corridor) between Babcock Park and Dundas has begun.  I took the above photos behind the Northfield Ice Arena and Northfield Athletic Club on Friday.

P. 52 of the March 15 City Council packet has background  info:

Northfield applied for funding for the construction of a 3-mile trail from Babcock Park to Dundas through the 2009 Trail Legacy program and was granted $150,000 of the $500,000 requested. In addition the Rotary committed $100,000 to development of the trail along with a commitment from Dundas for $7,000. Due to the budget shortfall, cuts were made to the project including eliminating part of the proposed connecting trail section and paving the trail using crushed rock for the trail surface rather than bituminous as proposed.

Subsequently the City submitted two applications for the 2010 Legacy Grants to help fund the portions of the project that were eliminated. The City received $45,000 for construction of the connecting spur to Honeylocust. The City was not successful funding the paving portion of the project.

Completion of the paving portion of the trail project would provide the community with a few benefits. It would open the trail up to more user types such as inline skaters, skate skiers and those with mobility challenges. Paving would also provide a more stable and sustainable surface, holding up better in an area that is prone to flooding from time to time.

I’m not sure what’s happened since the March 15 meeting. Anyone have details on whether the trail will be paved this year? I checked the Mill Towns Trail news page and the Northfield Rotary news page, but alas, nothing.