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Waabizheshikana Trail expansion gets $1.5 million state grant

Cook County bike trails and the Mesabi Trail will also get funding from Legacy grants.

Waabizheshikana trail
Three hikers pass a trail sign for Waabizheshikana (the Marten Trail) near Kingsbury Creek. The city plans to extend the 3.3-mile path, formerly known as the Western Waterfront Trail, to Jay Cooke State Park over the coming years. and has now received a nearly $1.5 million state grant to help cover the expansion.
Steve Kuchera / 2021 file / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — The Waabizheshikana Trail in western Duluth recently received a nearly $1.5 million state grant as the city seeks to expand the popular waterfront trail to Jay Cooke State Park near Carlton.

The grant comes from the state’s Legacy fund, approved by voters in 2008, that gets a share of state sales tax revenues.

The Cook County Mountain Bike Trail System received a $400,000 grant in this round of funding while the Mesabi Trail on the Iron Range received $700,000 as efforts continue to pave the entire 165-mile, multi-use trail that runs from Grand Rapids to Ely.

The grants were approved by the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission as part of $11.4 million awarded to 14 regional parks and trails across the state from this year’s round of Legacy funding.

Reporter Teri Cadeau crossed the Thomas Rukavina Memorial Bridge on the Mesabi Trail.

Since its creation in 2014, the commission has awarded more than $72 million in grants to 109 projects across the state. Combined with $25.6 million in local community matches to date, grants are used to fund infrastructure improvements, land acquisitions, new facilities, trail rehabilitation and more.

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City officials said the state grant will help add about two more miles to what is now a 3.3-mile multi-use path. The trail eventually is hoped to stretch 7 miles, clear from the Irving to Fond du Lac neighborhoods. The finished 8-foot-wide, crushed-stone path will be wheelchair accessible and is expected to cost about $4.9 million to construct, plus another $575,000 for the interpretive elements.

Waabizheshikana (pronounced "wah- ba-zhayshe- kuh-nuh") is Ojibwe for "The Marten Trail," in honor of the Indigenous Marten Clan.

An Ojibwe word for the "Marten Trail," the 3.3-mile, ADA-compliant, multiuse trail follows the St. Louis River in western Duluth.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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