DNR Awards Millions in Trail Funding

Posted at: 01/08/2013 9:42 PM
Updated at: 01/08/2013 10:30 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Good news for bikers and cross-country skiers in the Albert Lea area.

On Tuesday the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources awarded $950,000 to Freeborn County to purchase a stretch of abandoned rail line that officials plan to convert into new trails.

The roughly 13 mile section would connect to bike trails in the city as well as the Blazing Star Trail.

Officials say the project is particularly exciting because of the unique opportunity the rail line provides.

“A 13 mile stretch was, I wouldn't say a once in a lifetime opportunity, but it doesn't come along very often,” said Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever.

Most stretches of rail line that become available for purchase are generally much shorter in length, Kluever said.

The rail line is owned by Union Pacific and was appraised at roughly $1.6 million. So far officials have raised around $1.1 million but they say they are optimistic a deal can be reached.

The city of Rochester also received $250,000 to improve the trail system in and around the Quarry Hill Nature Center.