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City OKs bike trail

BEMIDJI -- The city of Bemidji may become more bike friendly in 2015 - about 2,600 feet more friendly.

On Monday, the Bemidji City Council unanimously approved a 10 foot-wide paved walking/biking trail along the north side of 30th Street, roughly half a mile from Irvine Avenue to Ridgeway Avenue. They also approved allocating $50,000 more to the project to account for potential trail costs.

City officials said the trail would provide a safer route for foot and bicycle traffic rather than simply using the existing street.

"This is in a very high-density residential area," Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht said. "I know that this would be a well-used trail, and having it separated from the street ... will make it that much safer for pedestrians."

Parks and Recreation Director Marcia Larson said residents in the area have told her cars drive through at high speed in the area.

Albrecht also said the potential 30th Street trail helps satisfy a goal listed in the city's overall parks plan to connect residential areas to city parks and regional trails.

As City Engineer Craig Gray noted in a memo to the council, the entire cost of the trail is estimated at $135,000, and the city can't use any federal or state highway money to cover it.

However, Gray also pointed out that the city will be renovating Sherman/Piper Drive in 2015 as well, so if the Sherman/Piper project comes in under budget the city may be able to use the extra money to go toward the trail.

In order to provide space for the trail, the 10 foot wide parking lanes on 30th would be narrowed to 4 foot-wide paved shoulders on each side. Larson said the parking lane is not used often, and the nearby park has adequate space for cars.

Additionally, 30th Street itself is scheduled to be repaved in 2015.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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