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City 'Optimistic' Western Waterfront Will Have Rail and Trail

Baihly Warfield
Updated: August 14, 2019 07:24 PM

DULUTH, Minn. - After years of looking at how to marry environmental cleanup and recreation along the western waterfront, the city's Parks and Recreation Department thinks they have a plan that will allow both rail and trail. 

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Parks staff presented some recommendations to the Parks Commission Wednesday evening, 

Jessica Peterson said as of now, the plan is to maintain the enitrety of the train tracks while also constructing a trail for pedestrians and bicyclists. 

"The public wants and deserves, quite frankly, this equitable access to the riverfront," Peterson said. "And that comes in a number of different forms. So public input has been strong to support an option that would preserve the rail, and we believe that we're within reach of an option that will do that."

Supports of the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad have lobbied the city to keep the tracks and preserve their historic value. 

Lisa Luokkala with the Parks Department said three areas along the St. Louis River Corridor need remediation: Munger Landing, Spirit Lake and Mud Lake. The city is working closely with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency on those projects. 

As the Parks Department has assessed the western waterfront over the past three years, they've received significant public input. Peterson said she feels their recommendations reflect the public's and the stakeholders' feedback. 

"There are multiple values to building this trail: neighborhood connectivity, connection to nature, recreational enjoyment of a fairly untouched portion of our riverway," Peterson said. "We look forward to having additional amenities for water access, fishing, boating, etc. And so this is a way for us to kind of bring all of those pieces together." 

However, they expect the physical work is still probably around two years out. There are several more steps in the meantime:

  • A draft mini-master plan will be presented to the Parks Commission at the September meeting.
  • There will be a two-week public comment period.
  • The final mini-master plan will be presented, and the Parks Commission will vote. 
  • The plan moves to the City Council for final approval. 
  • Construction companies are asked to draw up plans and submit bids. 

Credits

Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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