New route envisioned for Cedar Lake Trail near stadium site

If you can't go around it, and you can't go over it

Cedar Lake Trail planners are negotiating plans with the Minnesota Ballpark Authority to maneuver the last leg of the bike path past the future Twins stadium site in Downtown.

The trail runs from Highway 100 in the western suburbs past Cedar Lake and Theodore Wirth Parkway to the western edge of Downtown.

For years, boosters have envisioned the trail continuing alongside the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, northwest of 3rd Avenue North, all the way to the Mississippi River Parkway.

&#8220Our goal was always to link the lakes with the river,” board member Dave Klopp said, a concept originated by Theodore Wirth himself that the Cedar Lake Park Association is working to fulfill.

Stadium plans put a squeeze on the projected route, though, and for months the city, trail association and ballpark authority have been talking about alternatives for getting the trail past the site.

A tunnel proposal was floated but dismissed due to costs and safety concerns from trail supporters. An idea for an elevated path through the area was also ruled unfeasible, Klopp said.

The most recent alternative being explored involves budging a stadium wall and the Burlington railroad tracks to clear a 20-foot-wide corridor for the bike path under a cantilevered overhang behind the stadium.

&#8220How often do you hear about a railroad moving their tracks for a bike trail?” Klopp said.

Chuck Ballentine, deputy coordinator for the Ballpark Authority, said a number of questions remain, but it appears inching the tracks and stadium apart a bit will offer the best experience for bicyclists.

The group is looking into lighting and security cameras to would deter crime, Ballentine said. Other ideas include placing a security office or police substation near the trail.

Luther Krueger, Minneapolis Police crime prevention specialist for Downtown, said if enough people use the trail, it likely will be a safe place.

&#8220You can't feel safer than when you have a bunch of good folks together doing a positive activity,” he said, adding that 29th Street Greenway problems haven't been anywhere near what some predicted.

The city hopes to start construction next year on the section of trail between the ballpark and river. The schedule for connecting it to the existing trail will depend on the ballpark timeline, a city engineer said.

FYI: CEDAR LAKE BIKE TRAIL

LOCATION: The bike path now runs about 6 miles through Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis. It run roughly parallel to Interstate 394 and ends on the southwest side of Downtown at Glenwood and Royalston avenues.

WHAT'S NEXT: Trail planners are working on a plan for the final leg of the trail in Downtown. The latest proposal calls for the trail to connect with the Mississippi Riverfront via a path between the new Twins stadium and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks.

Reach Dan Haugen at 436-5088 or [email protected].