REGIONAL— It’s a busy year for work on the Mesabi Trail, with segments of the trail between Embarrass, Tower, and Ely slated for construction over the next several months.Indeed, work has …
REGIONAL— It’s a busy year for work on the Mesabi Trail, with segments of the trail between Embarrass, Tower, and Ely slated for construction over the next several months.
Indeed, work has already begun on a roughly two-mile portion of trail that will connect Lake Vermilion Soudan Underground Mine State Park to Trygg Road in Eagles Nest Township. That segment follows the former alignment of Hwy. 169, several miles of which was rerouted in 2018. That will still leave about a mile-long gap to reach a recently-built section of trail that starts at the Eagles Nest Town Hall. According to trail director Bob Manzoline, funding is in place to close that gap, but it remains in the design phase and likely won’t be ready for construction this year.
At the same time, Manzoline said work could begin as early as late June on the segment of the trail that will connect County Rd. 88, near Ely, to the railroad underpass along Hwy. 169, near the Twin Lakes cutoff. That segment will eventually connect to the portion that currently starts at the Eagles Nest Town Hall although the work set for completion this summer will still leave about a three-mile gap between those two segments. Manzoline said that portion of the trail is funded, but trail officials are still trying to work out an easement.
Meanwhile, said Manzoline, he expects to complete a 9.5-mile segment of the trail that will eventually connect Embarrass to Tower. That will bring the trail as far north as the junction of County Rd. 26, otherwise known as Wahlsten Rd., and Benson Road, which is located just east of the intersection of Wahlsten and Hwy. 135. That will still leave the trail about five miles short of reaching Tower.
“We don’t have a clue at the moment where that is going to go,” said Manzoline. Portions of the former rail grade that once connected Tower and Embarrass may be usable for the trail, notes Manzoline, but landowner concerns in some locations may force trail developers to look for alternative routes in some locations. Manzoline has met with the Kugler Township board in hopes of locating routes that will be acceptable to residents in the area.
Rice paddies bridge
Manzoline also noted that some repair work is slated for a nearly mile-long section of metal “boardwalk” that passes through the Darwin Meyers state wildlife management area, otherwise known as the “rice paddies” in Embarrass. A recent inspection of the installation found that many of the welds holding metal “boards” that form the tread on the boardwalk had failed, which creates a significant amount of noise when bikers pass over the tread. Manzoline said the contractor has agreed to use screws to hold the metal boards in place, which should significantly reduce the noise level.