County gets extension for trail talks
Jun 13, 2012 (Menafn - Albert Lea Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Negotiations to acquire more than 12 miles of abandoned Union Pacific Railroad line from Albert Lea to Hartland will continue during the next six months.
Freeborn County and Union Pacific Railroad officials have been granted an additional 180 days to work out an agreement. This will be the third 180-day stint the entities have been given after first starting talks last year.
Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever said county officials, Albert Lea officials and representatives from the Union Pacific talked in a conference call last week and loosely discussed costs, whether the railroad would be willing to sell segments of the line, among other topics.
The county is hoping to acquire the land to turn it into a multi-use trail from Albert Lea to Hartland.
The trail, which would wind through a variety of settings, would offer a glimpse into commercial, industrial, residential and even country life in that span.
But what's bigger than simply a new trail for bicyclists and walkers to enjoy is the effect the trail could have on making Albert Lea and Freeborn County a destination, in addition to increasing the value of homes close to the route, according to trail supporters.
The trail would link up to the new Front Street bike lanes, connect to the Blazing Star Trail, continue to Myre-Big Island State Park and eventually continue to Hayward and maybe Austin.
Beginning across from Dairy Queen on South Broadway, it goes through a residential area in the south side of the city, runs behind Lou-Rich Manufacturing, crosses Front Street, continues behind Streater under the Main Street viaduct and through the residential area in the central part of the city.
It comes out at Shoff Park, crosses Minnesota Highway 13 and then travels north, ending a quarter mile south of Hartland.
Kluever said though the cost of the land is still undetermined, the county received its appraisal of the property, which is just under 1.6 million. The railroad has not received its appraisal back yet.
Kluever said railroad officials did not like the idea of the trail ending in front of an active railroad across from Dairy Queen, so they are talking about where to end the trail somewhere else, between the restaurant and Front Street.
In other rail news, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is inviting the public to attend a meeting in Rochester to discuss rail corridors across southern Minnesota.
The meeting will comb over a freight rail project that evaluated the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern railroad in Rochester and whether to mitigate or relocate the line. The meeting is 5 to 7 p.m. in Room B of the Rochester Public Library, 101 Second St. SE.
It also is the first meeting of what's called the Southern Rail Corridor Project Advisory Committee.
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