Mississippi River Trail receives state bikeway designation, becomes first US Bicycle Route in Minnesota
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Mississippi River Trail bicycle route received state and national recognition when state legislators designated the trail as Minnesota's first state bikeway during the 2012 session and federal officials today announced approval of U.S. Bicycle Route 45 in southeastern Minnesota.
The MRT connects existing shouldered highways, low-use roads and off-road paths for bicyclists and closely follows the Mississippi River from the headwaters at Itasca State Park to the Iowa border.
"The Mississippi River Trail--now also USBR 45--is a unique collaboration among local and state road and trail authorities," said Tim Mitchell, Minnesota Department of Transportation bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. "Partners are rebranding their existing roads and trails to create a long-distance bicycle route of state and national significance with a small investment."
In Minnesota, USBR 45 extends 148 miles from just south of the Twin Cities Metro area in Hastings to the Iowa border. Also known as the Mississippi Bluffs segment of the MRT, this route is the first USBR in Minnesota and is one segment of a proposed national network of bicycle routes, knows as the U.S. Bicycle Route System. MnDOT has future plans to designate the entire MRT route in Minnesota as part of USBR 45.
Once complete, USBR 45 will continue south along the Mississippi River to New Orleans. In the future, the U.S. Bicycle Route System will encompass more than 50,000 miles of routes. Visit www.adventurecycling.org/routes/usbrs/ to view the Corridor Plan map of the proposed national network.
"Formal recognition of the MRT as a state bikeway from the Minnesota Legislature demonstrates a long-term commitment to bicycling," Mitchell said. "This step will help us continue developing bicycle-friendly roads and communities for both new and experienced bicyclists."
Minnesota is the first of 10 Mississippi River states to seek legislation to formalize their portion of the national route within its boundary. The MRT extends to the Gulf of Mexico.
Trail authorities are planning additional improvements to the MRT in Minnesota, including increased signage.