A local project that has long been in the works is expected to be finalized within the first few weeks of the new year.
Koochiching County Assistant Engineer Trent Nicholson Tuesday told county commissioners that materials for informational kiosks and pavilions located along the bike trail paralleling Minnesota Highway 11 East are one step closer to being finalized.
“It’s been a long process,” Nicholson said of the project that dates back to 2016. “There’s been some concern with the community – we’ve had some folks come in and talk to us about when the project is going to be complete. I can say that the informational plaques are currently being manufactured.”
From the International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce to the County Road 20 intersection in Ranier, seven kiosks will help visually connect Voyageurs National Park to the community. The project is part of the 10-year Gateway Corridor plan, adopted in 2008 to beautify the Falls’ southern gateway along U.S. Highway 53 and from the east end to VNP, make the area pedestrian-friendly and create an economic impact.
The kiosks are on the north side of the bike trail, at locations where trail users can read the informational signs and see attractions, or the former locations of historical and cultural significance. The two main pavilions are just south of the Chamber of Commerce, and in the northwest corner of the County Road 20 intersection.
Nicholson said the plaques will be bolted to the kiosks and can be installed in cold weather.
Board Chairperson Brian McBride asked if they could be replaced, should any vandalism occur.
“They will be replaceable if necessary,” Nicholson said, adding he’s hopeful the public will appreciate the final product. “(The material is) really interesting to look through... I hope everyone else finds them very informational.”
Nicholson also expressed gratitude to staff with the Koochiching County Historical Society, who completed the text and images for plaques.
The Journal last year reported the total cost for 2.6 miles of trail reconstruction, kiosks and signs is about $800,000. About 80 percent of the project is federally funded, with a local match of about 20 percent from the county and the city of International Falls.