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County agrees to operate St. Croix Crossing bike trail

St. Croix County will take over maintenance and operation of an interstate bike and walking trail that will be built as part of the St. Croix River Crossing project.

The 4.8 mile trail, which is expected to be completed in 2017, will extend from Stillwater, Minn., across the bridge, into Houlton and back around, crossing the old lift bridge, said Supervisor Agnes Ring, who chairs the Community Development Committee.

Also last week, Community Development Director Ellen Denzer announced that the county has just been notified that it will receive a $120,000 federal grant to plan a county trail network that would link to the Loop Trail.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will make a $200,000 lump sum payment to the county to buy equipment and for future maintenance and replacement costs for the Loop Trail.

That money is allocated this way: $15,000 for specialized emergency service equipment, $62,000 for specialized equipment to maintain the trail and $123,000 for necessary work over the next 20 years.

“We think it’s a very important part of the infrastructure for St. Croix County,” said Ring, adding that this is an opportunity for the county to build a connected trail system.

She said the DOT didn’t want to maintain the trail, and the town of St. Joseph considered taking it on but decided against that.

The state will build the 10-foot wide asphalt trail. Amenities include a small shelter, interpretive signs and a kiosk, four to six picnic tables, recycling and trash receptacles, one or two benches, landscaping, a drinking fountain, two parking areas and a pit-vault restroom.

Denzer said the county will pay about $3,000 for a part-time seasonal employee to work on the Loop Trail. Maintenance will be incorporated into operation of the county’s Homestead Park a few miles away.

The resolution to take over the trail was adopted unanimously by the County Board Aug. 5.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

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