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Rush Creek Trail dedicated in Rushford

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Sep 28th, 2012
Posted in Rushford The Great Outdoors

Standing at the sides of the new Rush Creek trailhead sign during the opening of the Rush Creek Trail dedication are (L to R) Christina Peterson, Steve Sarvi, Mayor Chris Hallum, Mark Engel and Robert Dahl. Photo by Peggi Redalen

After more than two years of planning and development, and countless hurdles, the first phase of the Rush Creek Trail project in Rushford is in its last steps to completion. The extension, which ties into the Root River Trail, runs north from the state trail, along the eastern top of the levee system and to Creekside Park, bringing recreational trail users near the restored Hoiland Mill and providing the opportunity to connect with the city’s Magelssen’s Bluff trail system.

Because of the trail’s location atop the levee system, careful planning and construction, including cooperation of multiple engineering firms as well as the Army Corp of Engineers and FEMA, was required. Although the trail received original grant approval in 2011, the plans were also often hindered by the vast specifications, which altered not only the design, but overall route and project timeline.

Funding for the trail is provided by state Legacy Grant funds in the amount of $175,000 and federal Trail Grant funds $125,000. City Clerk Kathy Zacher notes that while these types of grants are typically mathching fund grants, the city was able to have no direct cost by matching two grant projects together. So far, expenses for the trail development and construction exceed $200,000. The city is not required to draw down on unused grant funds.

The project initially called for a southern phase, which would run south of the state trail to a new canoe launch area at the intersection of Rush Creek and the Root River. However, due to close proximity to several homes in that area, the plan has once again shifted. According to Zacher, the DNR is still in favor of some southern phase, with the city and the DNR coordinating efforts, taking into account the Army Corps of Engineers’ stance on the use of that portion of the levee system for a trail. Nothing on the southern phase is definite to date.

The previously discussed use of the park north of Winona Street and west of Highway 43 for some type of center location and lot for the Rush Creek Trail and bluff trail system has been altered. “The Corps would not allow the new bike trail to go under the north end bridge, so it is routed a bit differently and stops at Creekside Park parking lot,” notes Zacher. “We are creating a new pedestrian and bike crossing on the north side of the bridge to get people safely across the highway. There will be additional signage at Creekside to show people where they can go after they’ve crossed the Highway, to go onto Winona Street to get to the Mill and to the hiking trails up the bluff.”

In addition, there will also be a turn-around and bike/car parking area past the Hoiland Mill, near the base of the bluff, for people to access the bluff trails. Sentence to Serve crews will continue to improve the hiking trails up the bluff with wood steps and clearing out debris.

A trailhead sign and map have been developed through a county grant and the sign is already in place. The SHIP grant program, which applies to healthy-living activites encouraging more outdoor activities, provided approximately $2,000 in funding for trail signage and the mapping that is yet to be completed.

The trail is now ready for recreational use and has seen a steady stream of users since its recent paving. An official dedication ceremony was held September 21. Present and representing the city were Mayor Chris Hallum, Councilor Robert Dahl, and City Administrator Steve Sarvi. Also in attendance were Yaggy Colby and Associates’ landscape architect Mark Engel and community development manager project engineer Christina Peterson, Ervin House of Haugstad Construction, and Rushford Area Chamber of Commerce board members Doug Botcher and Peggi Redalen. Mayor Hallum thanked all who were involved with the project.

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