Safe Routes to School in Progress for Bemidji School District

The Bemidji School District has a large land base covering over 800 square miles that it must provide transportation services for.  Coupled with changes in state and federal funding for schools that have failed to generate growth in revenue, the cost of providing transportation services is eating a significant amount of the District’s budget.  In addition, nationwide and state trends in student health, inactivity and obesity show that the District has opportunities for a win-win solution to both its transportation and student health issues by encouraging more students to walk or bike to school.

The School District has been awarded a grant of $10,000 from the State’s Safe Routes to School program to develop and implement an evaluation tool for assessing the physical and perceived barriers in the community that keep students from walking or biking to school.  The HRDC, in partnership with the City of Bemidji, is assisting the School District with this effort.  Following the assessment phase that is being conducted this summer, a plan for methods to remove these barriers will be developed.


Making City and School Connections: Trail Development Underway in Baudette

As is common in so many rural communities with newer schools, the Lake of the Woods School is located approximately a mile west of the City of Baudette.  Connections between the school and the community are limited to Trunk Highway 11 or a County State Aid Highway about a half mile south of the school.

In addition to serving K-12 students with classrooms, auditoriums and athletic facilities, the school serves as a center of activity for the entire Baudette community.  Unfortunately, its physical separation from the town limits its ability to be fully utilized and accessible for all community members.  For example, students and residents who could easily walk or bike to the school are forced to either use the shoulder of TH 11 or a car for the short ride.  The local track and cross country running teams have also been forced to use the highway shoulder for training.

Lake of the Woods County, the City of Baudette and the School District have partnered with the HRDC to plan for the construction of a grade separated multi-use trail from downtown to the school.  A team of local agency and elected representatives has identified potential routes, while project staff has met with affected property owners to review those routes.  Once the concept route and design guidelines have been agreed to, the County can begin the survey and design work for the trail.

This section of trail will be the third phase of trail construction in the community.  The other two phases include a trail from the east end of town at Timber Mill Park to Willie Walleye Park downtown, and from Willie Walleye Park north to the International Border crossing.  Phase three as envisioned will connect downtown, through the western areas of the City (including future growth areas), to the school.

Construction of the trail by 2010 will be funded with a federal Transportation Enhancement grant the County received.


Lake Country Scenic Byway Association Continues to Grow

The Lake Country Scenic Byway Association made significant advances this year toward completing its Corridor Management Plan and developing an Interpretive Plan.  The Byway runs through Hubbard, Becker, and Cass Counties and connects a number of communities.  The Corridor Management Plan will pull together in one common framework all of the various plans, activities and opportunities identified and developed by the Byway Association.  A round of public meetings was held in various Byway communities, giving people across the Byway an opportunity to ask questions and provide their ideas about a common vision for the Byway.  For more information about the Byway, please contact Association President Katie Magozzi.

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