More than 80 people helped celebrate the near completion of the South Shore Boulevard stretch of the Lake Links Trail July 22 by joining in the sixth annual Lake Links Association Ride Around White Bear Lake.
Cyclists rode in groups guided by Lake Links board members clockwise around the lake starting at Saputo Station at Bellaire Beach Park in White Bear Township. Riders stopped periodically to learn about features along the trail, including White Bear Lake County Park and the trail's signature covered bridge. Some even made a short detour to the Mahtomedi Area Farmers’ Market to grab a snack and perhaps a cucumber or two.
Among the highlights of the day was the announcement by Lake Links board member Kevin Donovan that the trail is now 76 percent complete. Two key parts of the trail, however, still lack a definite plan for completion: a 0.8 mile stretch along State Highway 96 on the north side of the lake and a 1.5-mile segment along State Highway 244. These segments are particularly challenging because of the need to coordinate among local, county, and state jurisdictions.
The Lake Links Trail is based on a plan drafted in 2001 by Washington and Ramsey Counties. The plan lay dormant for decades until a group of local residents led by community leaders Mike Brooks and Steve Wolgamot banded together to form the Lake Links Association and turn the vision into reality. The Association successfully advocated for $9.87 million in state funding for the improvements completed to date. We're now working with local governments and residents to advance plans for completing the remaining few miles.
“We are so close,” said Lake Links Chair Mike Brooks. “Riding the reinvented South Shore Boulevard today really makes the unsafe conditions on Highways 96 and 244 stand out. Steve had a wonderful phrase he said many times to motivate those of us working with him on the around-the-lake project. He would say, ’We will get this done.’ That phrase needs to be fully embraced by all state, county, and local stakeholders who have the authority to get these final segments completed. We need their help.”