Highway 96 Trail Update

Updated: Jan 12


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

decision making.


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

page.”


Respectfully,


Michael Brooks, Chair

John Carr, Vice Chair

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