DOT, county plan for St. Croix Crossing loop trail
As construction of the St. Croix Crossing Bridge is set to wrap up in fall 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and St. Croix County are turning to the loop trail piece of the project.
The two groups held an information meeting Tuesday, Dec. 20, to give updates on the trail.
The bike and pedestrian trail will run across the refurbished Stillwater, Minn.,lift bridge in the town of St. Joseph, along Houlton Hill, down School Circle, parallel with Highway 64, across the new St. Croix Crossing Bridge, and then back up parallel with Highway 95 to Stillwater.
The total length is five miles, according to Beth Cunningham, project manager of the Wisconsin approaches. The trail will have a lane for walkers and another for bicyclists.
Rest portions will be included along the Houlton Hill path, to give riders and walkers a break from the steep climb, Cunningham said.
A trailhead is planned near the intersection of Highways 64 and 35. It will feature restrooms, a picnic shelter and ponds.
Work on the trail is set to begin in 2018, with bidding on the project in December 2017. Cunningham said the full trail with completed lift bridge will open in the summer of 2019.
Construction on the trail in St. Joseph will take place in phases to minimize the effect on the community. First, construction will reconfigure the intersection of Highways 35 and 64, and work will be done on Main Street, making it no longer part of the highway. Then work on the trailhead will begin, with part of School Circle closed past the school. Houlton Hill from Hilltop Road to Main Street will then be closed. Finally, Houlton Hill will be torn up and State Street will be reconstructed.
While the Wisconsin DOT will lead the initial construction, St. Croix County and the Town of St. Joseph will take over continued maintenance once the trail is completed.
St. Croix County Community Development Director Ellen Denzer said the county will be looking for community involvement for one-time donations to the trail and trailhead. These could include benches, bike aid stations, bike racks, pet stations, educational materials and more.
The county is also looking for community input for the 12 interpretive panels it will install along the trail. These panels will include information on local history or the environment the trail encompasses.
Some confirmed topics include St. Croix County agriculture, pathways for health, rain gardens, western prairie, homesteading and scenic vistas.
An open house on the panels will be held in February, with final designs completed by March.
As the loop trail project continues to move forward, Cunningham said the DOT is accepting comments from the public until Jan. 13.
She said the group will work to address all the comments by the end of January, and implement suggestions where possible.