France Ave Trail Preview - A Million Dollars Per Mile

The proposed France Avenue bike/pedestrian trail “reconstruction” along the 3.2 miles between Old Shakopee Road and 82nd Street in Bloomington is actually a million-dollar-per-mile new development along roughly the same route as a current mix of paths.  The planning department is just starting work on an idea that will eventually be brought before the City Council for approval.

As displayed at a June 30 open house, the preliminary drawings of the proposed multi-modal trail showed it would have a 10 ft. wide paved (asphalt) portion , i.e., equal to a street lane, plus a  5 ft. wide grassy / plowed-snow buffer near the curb.  The paved area would be more than twice as wide as the current cement or asphalt paths, and the grassy buffer 1-4 feet wider than it currently is in some sections, much narrower in others.  With a large stretch of wetlands along the route, a section of boardwalk may be included in that Nine Mile Creek area.

Construction is expected to take one summer season, and would likely require closure of a lane of France Avenue at times.

Homeowners along France Ave would see fences removed during construction and the cost of replacing those fences further inside their property lines after construction may not be covered, depending on existing easement agreements.

As currently envisioned, the trail would be on the West side of France Avenue (intent is to better serve school students) and require that a large number of utility poles be relocated closer to the roadway, within the 5 foot grassy buffer.  A comparable alternate route on the East side of France Avenue hasn’t been considered. If studied, the alternate route may prove to have fewer utility complications.

Because the project is in a very early stage, no detailed study has been made yet of the costs, no discussions have started with utilities regarding practical implications of moving power / telephone poles, or possible gas line considerations, potential alternative routes for pedestrians and bicycles during construction are not yet known, and all measurements are preliminary.

The planning division has not yet been given access to Franchise Fee funding (the $90/household, $4.9 million that Bloomington has started collecting yearly for road/trail Pavement Maintenance). The planning division is still working within assumed constraints of under $300,000 total per year for all bike/pedestrian trail maintenance. An application to the Met Council for a portion of Federal funds allocated to the region for alternative transportation projects was approved by the Bloomington City Council June 27. The department expects to hear in the fall how much of that funding, requested for the 2020 construction season, might be made available.

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