April 4, 2024: Bike trail projects in final planning stages

2 April 2024

Expect some changes to the Arboretum over the next few years as Carleton works with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the City of Northfield on pedestrian and bikeway improvements designed to increase safety and recreational opportunities.

The Mill Towns State Bike Trail has been under discussion with the College since it was first authorized for development by the State of Minnesota in 2000. After considering several proposed routes, this project, now in its final stages of planning and approval, will primarily follow the edge of the Arboretum and will provide new recreational opportunities for Carleton and the Northfield region. When complete, the Mill Towns State Trail will connect the cities of Faribault and Cannon Falls, and provide access to additional trails that will link between Mankato and Red Wing, for a total of 85 miles. Another significant benefit of the project will be the addition of a tunnel under Highway 19 near the intersection with Spring Creek Road. The timeline for this segment of the trail is based on funding that has been appropriated by the Minnesota state legislature and is likely to begin in late 2024 or early 2025, with completion by the end of 2026.

Wall Street Road, which runs along the southern end of the Upper Arboretum, is slated for improvements by the City of Northfield over the next construction season. In addition to rebuilding the roadway, the bridge crossing of Spring Creek will be improved, a stormwater retention basin will be created, and a multi-use path will be constructed between Wall Street Road and the Arboretum. At the corner of Wall Street Road and Spring Creek Road, this project will interface with the Mill Towns Bike Trail. A plaza at this intersection is included in the Wall Street Road project to allow space for wayfinding signs and other amenities.

Special thanks to Nancy Braker ’81, Puzak Family Director of the Cowling Arboretum, for the significant amount of work that she has done to advance these projects. Additional information on these projects can be found on the Arboretum website.

—Vice President and Treasurer Eric Runestad