COTTAGE GROVE — City, county and state officials dedicated a section of the new $7.2 million Ravine Parkway at a Sept. 18 ribbon cutting.
The ceremony, which took place on the Parkway's pedestrian bridge, also included residents, the Park High School Marching Band and a curious bald eagle who observed the proceedings while perched atop a nearby pile of dirt.
"This is a day 16 years in the making," Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey said, referring to the city's East Ravine Master Plan that was created in 2003.
The 1.6-mile stretch of Ravine Parkway runs from Jamaica Avenue to Keats Avenue, north of 70th Street near the border with Woodbury. It replaces Military Road as a link between the two.
The design includes landscaped medians, trails, prairie restoration plantings and 8 acres of land that have been set aside for the future Glacial Valley Community Park. Several new housing developments, including Kingston Fields, have been built on the former farmland in anticipation of the new road.
Bailey thanked Washington County and the South Washington Watershed District for their help.
Part of the land will be preserved as "green infrastructure," South Washington Watershed District president Don Pereira told the crowd. The open space will serve as a natural sponge to help absorb runoff during extreme "100-year" floods.
After the ceremony, kids beat the 80-degree heat by dashing under the spray from a Cottage Grove Fire Department pumper truck. Free ice cream treats were also available.
Another section of Ravine Parkway is under construction between 65th Street at Hinton and Innsdale avenues.
The project was made possible with the help of a $600,000 local roadway improvement grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.