Building the Blue Goose Trail between Gooseberry Park and south to the Bluestem Center for the Arts can’t happen soon enough, says Jens Gylland.
“Fargo-Moorhead has bike paths, but they don’t have any rhyme or reason,” the Moorhead man said.
Gylland, who was at Gooseberry on Monday to exercise his dog, Ole, lives near S.G. Reinertsen Elementary School in south Moorhead. When the weather is warm, he bikes to and from his job at the Air National Guard base in north Fargo, he said.
“A path would be really nice,” Gylland said. “Sharing the road with drivers is not always fun.”
The Moorhead City Council voted Monday for a set of resolutions to seek a federal grant for the $630,000 Blue Goose Trail, a key portion of an ambitious makeover plan for the city’s river corridor.
The plan would build bike and pedestrian pathways from Gooseberry, heading south in areas along the river cleared for flood protection, then linking into existing trails, signed bikeways and wider sidewalks that would get determined bicyclists and pedestrians to the Bluestem Center on 50th Avenue South.
Under federal rules, the city would pay $210,000, which includes engineering, legal and administrative fees, plus 20 percent of construction costs. The remaining $420,000 would be federal dollars, City Manager Michael Redlinger said.
“This is a real critical piece of trail connection,” Redlinger said of the Blue Goose Trail.
The trail “was the absolute top priority project” in Moorhead’s $18 million river corridor master plan, he said. It calls for expanded nature trails, pedestrian walkways, bike paths and more pedestrian bridges crossing the Red River between Fargo and Moorhead.
“This is the one (project) that I think would be a great bellwether for projects after this,” he said. “I think success here will lead to successes with other projects as we build momentum along the corridor.” It’s a project “that’s reflective of what the public wants to see.”
Over time, Redlinger would like to see more connections with Fargo and its system of bike and pedestrian trails. And, if possible, he’d like Moorhead connected to the Heartland Trail system in Minnesota’s Lakes Country.
If the Blue Goose Trail is approved for the federal funding, the money would be available in fiscal year 2020.
Assistant City Engineer Tom Trowbridge said the city could find other ways to start the project sooner, then get reimbursed with the federal grant.
“It really provides a lot of connectivity,” Trowbridge said of the Blue Goose Trail. “It links all that residential area in south Moorhead.”
The Blue Goose Trail plan got a thumbs up from Melissa Greene and Gary Johnson, who were hiking in Gooseberry on Monday.
“Sounds perfect. I think it (a biking and walking trail) would be a great addition,” Greene said.
“That would be slick,” Johnson said. He bikes 10 to 15 miles a day when the weather is nice. “I’d go on it every day. Moorhead is a little behind on bike trails.”
Fargo is also working to improve its trail system piece by piece, said Jason Baker, a city transportation engineer.
Baker said having a walking and biking-friendly city was one of the top five priorities for Fargo residents in the “Go 2030” plan.
For example, he said this year’s reconstruction of NP Avenue between 10th Street and University Drive included protected bike lanes.
“We keep that in mind as we’re planning projects,” Baker said.
Roger Gress, executive director of the Fargo Park District, said walking trails were the No. 1 request of city residents in a survey taken a decade ago.
He said the Park District is working to connect its newest parks in the city’s south and southwest. “As we get them connected, there’s really an excellent trail system,” he said.
Asphalt trails are being replaced by concrete, he said, making for smoother traveling.
Parks officials are also working to turn areas bought out for flood protection back to natural habitat along the river in the city’s far southern reaches.
There “are a lot of wonderful things that are going to be happening,” Gress said.