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Student trails to be built in Cottage Grove

The trails partially funded by Safe Routes to School will be built on 65th Street and Hinton Aveune for Cottage Grove Elementary and Keats Avenue for Cottage Grove Middle School. Submitted illustration

Cottage Grove, Washington County and District 833 have secured funding from the Safe Routes to School program for two trails to Cottage Grove Elementary and Cottage Grove Middle School.

City engineer Jennifer Levitt said the funding will "fill in the gaps in our trail networks" for neighborhoods within a one-mile radius of the schools.

One trail will be built on Keats Avenue from 80th Street to Indian Boulevard, and the other along the corner of 65th Street and Hinton Avenue.

The trails will be partially paid for by federal funding through the Safe Routes to School program.

Levitt said the city, county and school district have been working together for about 10 years to secure the funding.

The total cost for the trail on Keats Avenue is estimated to be $286,000. With federal reimbursement, the cost to the city is $64,000.

The trail on Hinton Avenue and 65th Street will cost $329,000, with the city paying $114,000 after receiving federal funds.

Both trails will be constructed this year using utility funds.

The trail on Keats Avenue will be built as part of the six-legged roundabout construction project including Keats Avenue, Highway 61 and East Point Douglas Road.

"This is now that missing link to tie into 80th Street," Levitt said.

Levitt said the trails will be good opportunities for community use as well, especially as Junction 70 Grill and Primrose school are completed.

"(It will) open the walkability to those neighborhoods to the north having access down to those facilities," she said. "I think we have some unique opportunities there to fill in those gaps."

One of the goals of the completed trail system is for students to exercise more and be healthier. According 2013 school district statistics, no students biked or walked to Cottage Grove Elementary. Safe Routes to School projects include education, which the school district is playing a part in.

"It involves education," Levitt said. "The really want to increase walkability, exercise, connectivity. They want to talk about healthy choices within school. ... (the school district has) done all of those activities to position us to receive those federal funds."