Highway 96 Trail Update
Updated: Jan 11, 2022
Editor's note: The following is a letter from the Lake Links Association to Highway 96 residents, government officials, and other interested persons in follow-up to our November public meeting discussing options and fielding questions related to the segment of the Lake Links Trail that will run along Highway 96 on the north side of White Bear Lake.
December 23, 2021
Hello and Happy Holidays,
In our search to find answers to questions many of us have, we have pulled together a
Highway 96 update from the conversations and emails the Lake Links Association has
initiated over the past few weeks.
For decades, residents of our area have pursued creation of a safe, nonmotorized
route around White Bear Lake. The Lake Links Association works daily on many levels
across multiple agencies on behalf of lakeside communities. Through research and
communication outreach we strive to support each community in their trail segment
The Highway 96 corridor on the north side of White Bear Lake is one of the few
segments not yet implemented. To help move things forward, Lake Links organized
and facilitated a public meeting on Monday, November 8 with the goal of fostering
greater communication between units of government and residents along Highway 96
most affected by the trail’s placement. You can read a summary of that meeting,
follow-up questions and our answers here.
The City took the lead on questions posed to both the City and the Township. We were
encouraged by the City’s direct approach to address our questions. The City’s primary
contact for the trail, City Engineer Paul Kauppi, openly shared the City’s perspective on
the trail, its work to date and the direction the City and Township are pursuing. He
cited the need for considerable preparation and understanding of the land situation
and what may be asked of each homeowner.
When asked why the City had not reached out to residents, he responded they had not
done so because they did not have any solutions to share at the moment. He indicated
the City and Township would be working with an engineering firm to generate muchneeded
information. They are planning for a public meeting in early 2022 to present
options to individual land owners affected by placement of the trail on the south side of
Highway 96. Mr. Kauppi added, “The 33-feet each side of centerline mentioned in your
Q&A does not necessarily apply as if the road… is outside of the right-of-way, it is typically determined that the right-of-way is only that which is actively being used for
roadway purposes, not always 33-feet.”
We also had multiple exchanges with MnDOT to learn about background information
on the methodology used to determine MnDOT’s right-of-way and request visuals
depicting potential impact on a property-by-property basis.
In a conference call, MnDOT area managers and management from the agency’s
Right-of-Way Mapping division offered superficial explanations of how their claimed
right-of-way was decided, with no explanation of why the1849 statutory 66-foot rightof-
way isn’t being recognized.
During the meeting, which was cordial and collaborative, we requested, and MnDOT
agreed to provide a map showing a line 33-feet to the south of the center line of
Highway 96 to illustrate the possible location of the trial on the adjoining properties. A
few days later we received an email from MnDOT apologizing and saying they could
not provide the maps. They said the engineering firm hired by the City and Township
would need to create them.
MnDOT closed their email by saying, “we do not think creating a map with linework
trying to measure to the level of accuracy you’re interested in is advisable at this time
and would likely create confusion.” The Lake Links Association is now looking into
other ways to simulate the information MnDOT has declined to provide.
Let us add that a complete understanding of MnDOT right-of-way and impact is a key
question of interest for residents, the Lake Links Association and the City. The City
sent us this insight into their approach to the project: “…we feel it is more productive
to have definitive dimensions that we are looking to acquire from each of them. Is it 1
foot or 20 feet? That is the information we will obtain from this next step.”
Everything shared with us points to the City, Township and MnDOT “kicking off” a
preliminary engineering analysis in January of 2022 to focus and get “on the same
Michael Brooks, Chair
John Carr, Vice Chair