By Bridget Lenczewski
By next spring, the Wobegon Trail, will be extended to Waite Park. The trail currently extends to St. John’s, and connects to many other nearby trail systems which pass through cities and towns in the area.
After this project is finished, the trail will be extended even farther to connect to St. Cloud’s Beaver Island Trail and trails in Sartell.
The extension will make it easier for CSB/SJU students to travel to Waite Park without need of a car or the Link. Students will no longer have to bike along Division Street to get into Waite Park and St. Cloud, a route that is known for being dangerous. Instead, students will be able to bike, walk and rollerblade along a paved trail.
The construction of the trail extension began on Aug. 22. The trail will be extended 3.2 miles which will cost $4.9 million, funded by Minnesota Legacy Fund grants as well as private donors. The extension of the trail is expected to promote businesses and stimulate local economies.
Students are excited for for the extension.
“The trail offers an outlet for recreation and also for transportation,” SJU senior Blake Dahl said. “I use it to get my groceries, I use it to run errands and I think having this trail extended into Waite Park will allow a lot of other people of all sorts of different backgrounds to be able to run errands and use their cars less. I think it is also just really nice to have some fresh air and some autonomy in operating something, especially for students that might use the busing system on the weekend to get into St. Cloud. It is liberating to be able to have access to your own personal vehicle.”
Dahl is one of many students who use the Wobegon Trail. In his case, he bikes on it every day to get from St. John’s to St. Ben’s for his classes.
Like Dahl, CSB senior Maya Hermerding bikes on the Wobegon Trail every day. She bikes from her apartmen to get to her classes and obligations at St. John’s.
“I choose not to use the Link for ethical reasons but also for fitness reasons,” Hermerding said. “I think that we are very dependent on this campus on the Link and the fossil fuels that it uses and so for me [the Wobegon Trail] is my main source of transportation… not having to take time out of my day to transport over to St. John’s and exercise is really nice.”
Senior storytelling major George Dornbach agrees with Hermerding’s statements.
“I think the Wobegon Trail is an underutilized feature of our campuses,” Dornbach said. “It is something that we are lucky enough to have that links both of our campuses, Personally, I think one of the best ways to see the world around you is from behind the handlebars of a bicycle… You can experience more of life. You can cover more ground and take time to look around and feel the wind through your hair and the sun on your face and I love that about biking through the country from campus to campus.”
Most students say that biking on the Wobegon Trail between campuses takes between fifteen and twenty-five minutes. The extension of the trail to Waite Park will increase the opportunities for students to commute in a more environmentally conscious way.
FEATURE PHOTO: HANNAH WINDSCHITL • [email protected]