How widening the trail

would damage our park


Restore the Nine isn’t against bikers or bikes. Restore the Nine is for protecting the natural environment in the park. That means we oppose widening the trail for any reason.

Many people do not realize that widening the trail is a major construction project that will drastically affect not only the natural environment, but also the aesthetics of the trail.

Trail Preparation

  • Per Bloomington Parks and Recreation, a new shared pedestrian/bike trail would try to match the new paved MN Valley State trail, so would be 10 feet wide.

  • Constructing a 10-foot-wide paved trail in Central Park would entail leveling the area and removing all trees, vegetation, and roots for 5 feet on both sides of the trail.

  • That means 20 feet of leveling for a 10-foot trail. (In the image above, of the MN Valley State trail, that’s a 20-foot swath).

  • The current trails are typically from 7- to 9-feet in width.

  • In the picture at right, you can see that large old tree would need to be cut down. (Location: between mile markers .6 and .7).

Trail curves

  • Trail guidelines suggest the proper degree of curvature for a trail based on its use. Curves on a mixed bike/pedestrian trail need to be less intense than those on a pedestrian-only trail so that cyclists can see oncoming pedestrians around curves.

  • This image shows both how winding the current trail is and also that it is too narrow for bicycles at this time.

  • The narrow trails bring walkers closer to nature, providing a more intimate experience of the forest than a wider trail. (Location: near mile marker .3)

Instead of hills, we’d have retaining walls

  • The northern half of the park is a narrow valley, with Nine Mile Creek meandering through steep, wooded hills. The trail is sometimes sandwiched between the creek and a hill.

  • In sections where a hillside comes close to the current trail, the hills will need to be bulldozed and retaining walls will need to be installed.

  • The image shows a spot on the trail with a blind curve. A large portion of this steep hill would be cut away and the rest would be held in place with a high retaining wall. (Location: between mile markers .7 and .8).

This is the previous image showing approximately how much of the hill would need to be cut away to clear 20-feet. The retaining wall would probably be at least 7 feet high.

A tight spot

Here, the trail is nestled between a hill and the creek. The two trees you can see at the curve are huge, old cottonwoods.

If a widened trail is put in, they will likely die, even if they aren’t cut down, because of the damage that would be done to their root systems.

Location: near the .4 mile marker.

This is another photo of the same spot, showing approximately how much of the hill would need to be cut away to clear 20 feet.

To help prevent erosion from flooding events, the trail would probably start farther from the creek, meaning the cut into the hill would be deeper.

Speaking of retaining walls

Here is an existing retaining wall, near mile marker 1.1. It’s more than 6 feet tall at its highest point.

If they widen the trail, you’ll be walking or riding past many such walls instead of along tree-lined trails.

This spot is also interesting because the trail has no buffer at all between the wall and the creek.

To widen this trail, the existing retaining wall would be removed and at least another 13 feet would be dug into the hill.

The dotted line shows how far into the hill they would need to cut, and that’s without adding additional space between the creek and the trail.

Notice that this hill supports the western 106th Street bridge abutment.


Notice how shady the trail is here. Once the trees along the trail have been cut down, there won’t be any more shade. You’ll be walking or biking in the sun.

Location: near the .9 mile marker.

Retaining wall replacement

This existing retaining wall, which is in good shape, would be removed and a new one built further into the hill.

The trees on the right would be cut down, as well as many of the trees you can see on the left.

Location: just over the bridge past mile marker 1.1 and the 106th Street bridge.

South of the James Rd. trailhead

Most of the previous pictures were taken north of 106th Street because that’s a narrow valley and will most obviously be severely damaged by widening the trail.

South of 106th Street, past the James Road trailhead, the valley widens out into a floodplain forest.

Down here, there won’t be a need for retaining walls, but you can see how many trees would need to be cut down to create a 20-foot leveled area around the current 9-foot-wide trail.

This area floods every year. That’s why having an unpaved trail in this section is smart.

A case study

Here is a spot where the trail is sandwiched between the creek and a hill. It is about 8 feet wide at this point, and the photo was taken at the end of a bridge, facing north.

To see what we think would happen to this spot, click the link.


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