Bicyclists and walkers looking for a better way to get around the southwest side of Perham won’t have much longer to wait.
The city’s Wildflower Trail – in the works since 2007 – is now on the fast track to completion, with a deadline of June 30.
Plans for the trail route have been newly altered to accommodate a separate, 10-foot wide paved pathway along Coney Street in lieu of bike lanes painted onto the road – a move that city leaders feel will increase safety and user comfort along the route.
The main purpose of the trail hasn’t changed. It will still interconnect the existing Cal Miller Bike Route to the Wellness Trail, a one-mile paved pathway that will soon be constructed behind Perham Health.
The Wildflower Trail “makes a loop” to connect the Cal Miller bike path with the hospitals and the schools, explained City Manager Kelcey Klemm, “to connect that whole west side of town.”
The move to a separate paved pathway, he said, is an improvement over the original plan: “This hopefully makes it safer and more comfortable for people. Getting people off of Coney Street is better. I think people are more comfortable with having a separate bike path.”
The trail is named for the wildflowers that will be planted alongside it. These flowers and other native plants will grow in patches along the route, particularly along the County Road 34 and Coney Street stretches.
The hospital’s Wellness Trail will be landscaped in a similar way, with native plants, trees and shrubs.
Klemm described the trails project as “a nice joint venture between the school, the hospital and the city.”
“The idea started with talks of the (Highway 10 and County Road 34) interchange project,” he explained. With that, city leaders wanted to create a safe way for foot and bike
traffic to get around.
Though the project has seen little action since the interchange project was completed last September, a Minnesota DNR grant deadline of June 30 has recently sped up the process. In order to receive those grant funds, the path must be paved and the flowers planted by that deadline.
City staff is now working to get the new trail designs complete so they can put the project out for bid. They’re hoping to have quotes in by the May city council meeting.
The project is being funded primarily by a trail grant from the DNR, with a 25 percent local match from the City of Perham.