More on parallel efforts

On August 12 the Trails and Open Space Partnership heard about the launch of a new program, the MNRRA Alternative Transportation Plan (ATP).

First, some background. MNRRA, as many already know, is the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which is made up of the Mississippi River corridor through the Twin Cities metro, some 72 miles long. It’s a mix of lands both public and private and coming under many jurisdictions. So, not a national park in the way we usually know them; MNRRA nonetheless has a park service presence through partnerships. In 1995 the vision of a continuous trail and open space corridor was incorporated into planning for the area, and the Trails and Open Space Partnership was created as the vehicle to bring this vision to reality. Their work has led to the current state of progress where a full length Mississippi River Trail (MRT) has been designated, and work of trail signage has been virtually completed through our metro corridor.

The ATP is the next step contemplated for MNRRA. According to a document passed out at the meeting the park’s goals are “for increased visitation and sustainable access”, and the ATP…would “help achieve these park goals and identify how best to improve circulation without increasing congestion and impacting park resources. The ATP will identify how to connect non-motorized, transit opportunities along the 72 mile MRT with existing and proposed transit facilities on both sides of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities metro area”.

These are admirable goals, ones we hope to contribute to as the project unfolds. I should also point out that several people mentioned that the ATP is doubly important in that it’s being viewed as a possible prototype for other areas along the 3000 mile long Mississippi. With National Park Service funding, the work is getting under way of gathering data already available in maps and transportation plans. A consultant has been hired (HRD), and we the public have a go-to person in the form of Lorin Culver (title: transportation scholar). He is already aware of our work to connect transit to green space, but should you have suggestions about reaching the river via transit, or other innovative suggestions, Lorin can be reached at 651-290-3030 ext. 286. Lorin_culver@nps.gov.

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