In the midst of another construction season here in Minnesota, one project is almost nearing its completion. St. Cloud’s Beaver Island Trail has been a project for the city of St. Cloud for quite some time.
“The federal funding, almost ten years ago we were authorized for, so this is how long this planned but finally, thanks to the voters, the project is under construction and should be complete by the end of the summer,” said Mayor Dave Kleis.
The project was underway last June, with the hopes that it would be completed that season, however the cold suspended the work in November of last year.
“After last fall we had to shut down over the winter because of the river freezing up but now, I think we have four piers left to do, and one we’re done driving those we can start decking after that,” said Craig Hennen, the carpenter foreman on the job. Hennen is with L.S. Black, one of the construction companies contracted for the job.
The difficulty in constructing the Beaver Island extension has been more difficult then most may see, considering the geographical elements around the project.
“Right now with the river current and the slope we are working on, it makes is difficult, like I said. Once we get the piers in, we’ll start to steadily get the decking done and that will go pretty quick,” said Hennen.
Constructing a project like this is has been difficult, however, Kleis believes that bringing the nature of the Mississippi River to an urban area like St. Cloud is crucial to St. Cloud’s culture. Making the river much more accessible to people in the city could be a positive move.
“When it comes to downtown and the urban area, it’s difficult; it’s a challenge because the banks are really high and in order for us to actually extend this trail there is also Veterans Bridge; there is a railroad bridge so we are actually taking the trail underneath,” said Kleis.
“The trail right now ends at the River’s Edge Convention Center. Behind it, you would have to go up some steps because the trail doesn’t extend. This [Beaver Island Trail Extension] actually takes it out on the water so that you can go under those two bridges and get back on the road, so it’s a beautiful opportunity to get people to the most important river in the world, the Mississippi,” said Kleis.
Kleis also said that a call out to artists in the area has been made in order to create a something that shows where exactly you are on the trail as well as information about the Mississippi and its relationship with St. Cloud.
The project is estimated to be a total of $8.44 million, a cost that the mayor claims is strictly for trail use only.
“The dollars that have been allocated to the [Beaver Island extension] are dollars that are for that purpose. These are not dollars that are going to be competing with Police and Fire and Snow Plowing; these are dollars that are dedicated for, either through referendum or through funding, for this type of activity,” said Kleis.
The project that started last June and is expected to be done towards the end of the summer in St. Cloud, however, others on the job are striving for a sooner date.
“We are shooting to have it done by the 4th of July weekend, but it all depends on everything working out, and we would like to have it open by the 4th anyways,” said Hennen.