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Wadena applies for another trail grant

The Wadena City Council is applying for another DNR trail grant, in hopes of finishing improvements on the Leaf River bike trail. The council approved an application during the Aug. 15 regular council meeting.

In 2010, the city received a $200,000 grant to improve the Leaf River bike trail that runs from Sunnybrook Park to the Whitetail Run Golf Course area, along U.S. Highway 71.

In following months, the trail improvement project ended up costing more than anticipated.

About one mile of the approximately four-mile trail was left unfinished. The application is to repair and widen the remaining mile, and replace a bridge on the trail.

Jeff Adolphson of the Wadena County Highway Department and Ron Bucholz of City of Wadena Public Works said the bridge is safe for walkers and bikers but deficient for large vehicles.

Adolfson said the timber piling underneath the bridge is decaying and starting to become a concern, especially if heavier vehicles like trucks might need to drive on the trail for maintenance.

"It takes a long time to get these projects funded," he said.

Adolfson added that the structure in question is an old timber railroad bridge that was built around 1915. It crosses Union Creek, and its ID is R0398.

Bucholz said the county inspects all bridges on the trail, and the bridge in question was originally designed for trains. The Leaf River Trail rests where a north-south railroad used to be.

"I guess they don't want us to drive trains across anymore," Bucholz said, adding the trail bridge would be fine for snowmobiles, lawn mowers and pickups, but not larger trucks, many of which wouldn't fit on the trail anyway.

"It's not designed any more to carry that kind of load," Bucholz said.

Bucholz said the old bridge could end up being either strengthened or completely replaced.

The city's resolution states Wadena secured $22,550 in non-state matching funds for the trail project.

During the Aug. 15 regular council meeting, City Administrator Brad Swenson recommended committing a 10 percent match to the grant application.