Three Rivers Park District unveils master plan for 16-mile regional trail

The map shows the proposed Eagle to Bryant Lake Regional Trail, a 16-mile north to south trail from Maple Grove to Eden Prairie. An official plan is expected to come before the Plymouth and Minnetonka city councils in January 2021. (Image provided by Three Rivers Park District)

Three Rivers Park District officials are working on a master plan for a 16-mile north-south regional trail that would connect to other regional trails, parks and destinations from Maple Grove to Eden Prairie.

Staff from the park district have been providing updates on the proposed Eagle to Bryant Lake Regional Trail to city councils within the proposed trail’s jurisdictions, including Plymouth and Minnetonka, as they continue the planning process. The proposed project is expected to come before each of the councils in August for comments on the preferred alignment of the trail. Community engagement opportunities are expected to begin in July, according to Maggie Heurung, associate planner with Three Rivers Park District.

The trail’s proposed alignment would connect Eagle Lake Regional Park in Maple Grove to Bryant Lake Regional Park in Eden Prairie.

The trail would connect to French Regional Park in Plymouth and Plymouth’s park and ride on County Road 73, then continue south to Hopkins Crossroad in Minnetonka, around Crane Lake and the Ridgedale Shopping Center. From there, it would go down Baker Road to Rowland Road and into Bryant Lake Regional Park.

Heurung explained that the trail is a result of the feedback received as part of the West Metro Regional Trail Study, which began in late 2017.

The study included public outreach during various city events in Plymouth and Minnetonka and via an online survey, which garnered “overwhelming feedback” for such a trail, according to Heurung.

“The public really wanted a north-south trail to connect to these regional trails along with other destinations such as the Plymouth park and ride on County Road 73, Ridgedale Center and several other local parks,” she said. “We really hope this will fill the gaps between existing regional trails since it will connect with other popular trails.”

The Eagle to Bryant Lake Regional Trail will connect to five other regional trails, including Medicine Lake, Luce Line, Lake Minnetonka LRT, Minnesota River Bluffs LRT and Bassett Creek.

The trail will also connect to the Dakota Regional Trail extension in the future, she said.

The trail will be funded and operated by the park district. The Plymouth and Minnetonka city councils and residents will have input on the proposed alignment. The master plan will also need approval by the Met Council.

Park district staff members also intend to communicate with the Eden Prairie City Council and residents about the project, however, no formal city approvals are necessary as it will connect to an already existing trail in Eden Prairie, according to Heurung.

“The hope is we will eventually expand this regional trail to connect with Elm Creek Park Reserve in the north and Carver County Regional Trail System in the southwest metro,” she said.

The project will continue in the planning process, which will include community engagement, a project website with an interactive map, an online survey and working to communicate with Plymouth and Minnetonka residents.

Currently, there is not a construction timeline as the project depends on funding available, according to Heurung.

“I think this project is exciting since we were able to engage the public really early in the planning process – what project they wanted to see and what was needed in the community – and by linking a lot of the well-used trails and parks and other destinations to allow people to travel by multiple methods while enjoying the outdoors and not having to drive,” she said.

Projected timeline

The public engagement is scheduled to begin in July, including at local farmers markets, through an online survey and postcard mailings.

“We are also looking at other pop-up events where we can social distance but also gather feedback in person,” Heurung said.

In September or October, the Plymouth and Minnetonka city councils could approval of preferred alignment.

The draft master plan production and a 30-day comment period would be between October and December.

City council resolutions of support could be considered in January 2021.

The Metropolitan Council/Three Rivers review/approvals could be granted between February and April 2021.

More information can be found online at LetsTalkThreeRivers.org including ways to become engaged in the planning process.

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Kristen Miller is the community editor for the Sun Sailor, covering the communities of Plymouth, Hopkins and Minnetonka. Email story ideas to kristen.miller@apgecm.com

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