Empowering Communities, Celebrating Minnesota Locally

Final funding secured for trail project linking Carver and Scott counties

SCOTT COUNTY, MN – The U.S. Congress greenlit a $500,000 federal funding package on April 5th for the Merriam Junction Trail and Riverbed Stabilization endeavor. This initiative aims to link the trail systems of Scott and Carver counties via a bridge spanning the Minnesota River.

The allocation came following requests from U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, along with Rep. Angie Craig, all representing Minnesota. Their advocacy underscores the significance of this project for regional connectivity and outdoor recreation, as highlighted in a press release from Senator Klobuchar’s office.

The project, detailed on Scott County’s website, entails the construction of four bridges over a 2.4-mile stretch across the Minnesota River. This infrastructure will seamlessly integrate existing trails, fostering a cohesive network between Scott and Carver counties.

“We’re thrilled about this trail connection, providing a scenic route for biking and walking,” remarked Lisa Freese, Director of Scott County Transportation Services. “This area, with its natural beauty, has been underutilized by the community until now.”

The initiative traces its roots back to 2008, initiated through a collaborative effort between Scott and Carver counties, the cities of Carver and Chaska, and the Metropolitan Council. Following the collapse of a rail bridge in 2007, stakeholders began exploring the conversion of the rail corridor into trails. By 2010, they had secured the land and devised a regional trail master plan, setting the stage for transformative projects like the Merriam Junction Trail.

Funding streams for the project have been diverse, totaling $22.5 million. The recent injection of $500,000 from Congress, coupled with $750,000 allocated the previous year, significantly bridges the financial gap, according to Freese.

Upon completion projected for 2027, the impact will be substantial. Marty Walsh, Director of Carver County Parks and Recreation, envisions Chaska and Carver becoming trail destinations, drawing visitors to enjoy the trails and local amenities.

Accessibility is a cornerstone of the project, with the trail being ADA-compliant, a rarity in the area. Moreover, partnerships with local Indigenous communities promise an educational component, shedding light on the historical use of the river valley by the Dakota people.

While construction, slated to commence in September pending contractor selection, may temporarily disrupt current trail use, meticulous planning aims to minimize inconvenience, assures Craig Jenson, Scott County Transportation Planning Manager.

Looking ahead, the regional trail master plan will evolve, with future endeavors like the Circle the Brick project in Carver County and further expansions along Marschall Road. These initiatives underscore a commitment to enhancing outdoor recreational opportunities and fostering community connectivity in the region.