Bemidji bridge funding will complete Paul Bunyan Trail

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The final budget that came out of the state government shutdown compromise includes some good news for Bemidji. It provides the city $1.8 million to build a pedestrian, bike and snowmobile trail bridge over state Highway 197 at the south end of town.

The bridge has been on the wish list of both the city and the Department of Natural Resources for a long time. It represents the last segment of trail that will officially complete the 110-mile Paul Bunyan Trail from Brainerd to Lake Bemidji State Park. The bridges allows users to safely cross a six-lane section of roadway.

The funding comes from the $500 million bonding bill negotiated by Gov. Mark Dayton. The bonding package provides $5 million for DNR trails, including the bridge.

The bridge will span 140 feet and will include a 12-foot-wide concrete deck.

The project also nicely compliments a development area along the south shore of Lake Bemidji that includes the Sanford Center hockey arena and events facility, as well as other planned commercial and residential development.

Construction of the bridge could be completed as early as this fall.

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