I was along Shepard Road in Saint Paul this weekend, and saw a beautiful sight: The section of trail between the Highway 5 bridge and the I35E bridge is being regraded, widened, repaved, and generally upgraded from ‘OMG suck’ to ‘pretty darn nice.’
The river paths are popular with many recreational cyclists, and the shoulder on that part of Shepard was no great treat for condition either – keeping in mind that many bicycle riders wouldn’t go near it regardless, due to Shepard’s high speed limit. However, it was consistently strewn with debris and glass, and featured some pretty epic cracks and potholes.
The upgrades to the path are basically eliminating the shoulder, which will be a bit of a nuisance for the more serious, road-oriented cyclists who have been willing to deal with the somewhat questionable shoulder conditions as a trade-off for speed (and avoidance of the really crummy trail condition + inexperienced/slow riders). However, the trail upgrades are pretty considerable: The trail has been widened, and along most of the route features separated bicycle/pedestrian paths. Foliage has been trimmed such that it won’t stab people. New lighting is being installed, as is new fencing. Landscaping will be ongoing, given that August/September is not the best season for some of that work.
The project, given that it has included moving the roadway railing, regrading of the trail area, and protection of the cliff to Crosby Lake, has cost about $1.6 million dollars. The bulk of funding via the the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and DOT grants.
The big grand opening of the trail is scheduled for September 8, but with cooperative weather the trail should be done by Labor Day.