RED WING — The multi-use trail across the new Eisenhower Bridge of Valor will be open this winter after all.

City Engineer Jay Owens reported on Monday that in autumn 2020 numerous panels of railing along the river side of the trail had to be removed and returned to the supplier for correction and re-finishing. The city and the Minnesota Department of Transportation did not know the timeframe for installing the updated panels, so the trail was closed from Potter Street in Red Wing to 825th Street in Wisconsin and was scheduled to be revisited for reopening in the spring.

Because of mild weather in December, the contractor was able to reinstall all of the railing panels.

Owens told the council that he has heard from residents asking for the trail to be opened.

“The people who have been using that walkway are curious, you know. We started getting emails around the holidays here, ‘Why isn't the walkway across the bridge open? Why aren't you plowing that way?’”

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Council Vice President Dean Hove has also heard from residents. “There's people chomping at the bit,” he stated.

The city is responsible for maintaining the multi-use trail if it is opened for the winter months.

According to Owens’ report, it will cost the city $90 per snowfall to plow the portion of the trail being reopened. The estimated cost is $1,620 per season.

One thing that makes clearing this multi-use trail tricky is the railroad that runs under the bridge. “We've got to be cognizant about not spraying any of this snow down onto the railroad tracks,” Owens said.

The City Council voted to reopen the trail.

Council President Becky Norton stated, “I appreciate how responsive you were that you saw an opportunity that those panels were back on and said, ‘Hey, this is earlier than we expected let's get going.’ Especially this year with a COVID, a year where a lot of activities are outside and, just being a northerner and Minnesotan you get outside as much as you can to get some of that sunshine. So, just a big thanks to you guys willing to adjust and pivot and get that going.”

The Eisenhower Bridge of Valor is scheduled to be completed in 2021 with cleanup scheduled for the spring.