New trail creates connections in Farmington
Making connections is always a good thing, even when it comes to trails.
That's why Pilot Knob Road was closed for a few days earlier this month -- so a new section of trail could be installed alongside the road.
By itself, the trail doesn't seem to be much more than a strip of blacktop. But Farmington city engineer Kevin Schorzman thinks it's more than that.
"It was an important connection, kind of the last missing piece of a fairly substantial trail system that runs all the way to Lakeville to the north, and also all the way to Lakeville to the west," he said.
The trail was built from Co. Rd. 50 north to 200th Street, on the west side of Pilot Knob Road. The city of Farmington initially did the design, but much of the planning, inspection and construction costs were covered by Dakota County.
This year, Schorzman said, Dakota County initiated a trail planning program and asked to submit plans. Farmington was one of the few communities that had a request ready for this year. The local project was added to the county's program.
"That was an excellent opportunity for the city to recapture some of the tax dollars that Farmington residents pay," he said. "We captured some of those tax dollars and brought them back home."
Construction meant Pilot Knob Road be closed a few days. Schorzman attributes those closings not so much to the trail, but to the extra work done as part of the project. In addition to the trail, an extension of curb and gutter was completed, a catch basin was added, and some storm sewer piping was installed.
When the section of Pilot Knob Road from 195th Street to Co. Rd. 50 was constructed in the late 1990s, early plans had called for it to be widened to a four-lane road in the future. That still might happen somewhere down the line, Schorzman said, but the construction of Flagstaff Avenue changed traffic patterns. That means the trail will be used for several years without threat of being torn out.
For the most part, Schorzman said, the trail is pretty standard. It's there to keep pedestrians off of the road. But once it hits the Middle Creek area, it connects into some of the community's natural amenities.
"It's not your typical trail that runs right along the edge of the road," he said. "I think people will find it educational, even from a natural aspect. I would encourage people to use it."