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County to make upgrades to Gateway Trail

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The Washington County Board of Commissioners voted June 9 to enter into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to construct a grade-separated crossing over Manning Avenue for the Gateway Trail, consisting of a an historic bridge that will be moved in sections from Koochiching County.

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The Gateway Trail is an 18-mile, converted rail track for non-motorized trail use that stretches from St. Paul through Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale, before ending at Pine Point Regional Park northwest of Stillwater.

The project calls for the construction of a bridge that would elevate the trail over Manning Avenue for the safety of trail users. In 2009, the DNR will construct the trail approaches and abutment. Then, in 2010, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will reassemble a 28-foot bridge that it is moving from Little Fork River in Koochiching County. The 1877 bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. It will serve well as a trail crossing, but is too narrow for modern highway traffic demands.

The agreement calls for a payment from the county of up to $100,000 to the DNR to construct the trail crossing. If the county were to construct the bridge on its own, it would cost between $1 million and $2 million, public works officials estimate.

More than 300,000 people use the trail each year.

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