When, or how, sections of Minot's lengthy fitness trails system will return to conditions prior to the 2011 flood remain uncertain. The flood took a toll on the increasingly popular trail system, including at least one section that collapsed into a rapidly moving and widening Souris River. Repairing the trail will be costly.
The Victory Pedestrian Bridge that connected a section of the city north of the river with the fitness path on the south side of the river was damaged during the flood and is no longer in use. The bridge is located immediately east of Home Sweet Home on Railway Avenue. It became dislodged from its moorings during the 2011 flood.
Although other sections of the city's fitness path were damaged due to flooding or heavy earth moving equipment, the most visible damage to the popular path occurred east of the Broadway Bridge. It is there that the path ran along the southern bank of the river and where extensive erosion occurred. The river widened so much due to high flows that a portion of the fitness path collapsed into the river.
Kim Fundingsland/MDN • This portion of Minot’s fitness trail system passes underneath the Third Street viaduct. Much of the section was washed away by the 2011 flood.
"We had a meeting, trying to get the city to put back what we had," said Rocky Schell, chairman of the Fitness Trails Committee. "A lot of the property east of Broadway is in real bad shape where it caved in."
According to Schell, rebuilding the fitness path in the area of the Victory Bridge would involve placing the path farther onto railroad land. Previously the city leased a small section of land from the railroad for the fitness trail. Now that the land has been lost to erosion, an additional lease might not be possible.
The Victory Bridge, named in 2004, presents yet another obstacle to rebuilding the fitness trail. However, there appears to be a solution for the key connection between fitness routes on either side of the river.
"FEMA said they would not replace it, but would pay to fix it," said Schell. "What the city told us they plan to do is pick it up, hopefully repair it and put it back on. I hope that happens. We had to fight like heck to get that thing."
A timetable for fixing much of the fitness trail has not been established. Neither has funding, and it might be several more months before any action is taken.
"Last year we had other things on our mind," said Schell, noting that many city interests were overwhelmed with recovering from the 2011 flood. "Right now I'd like to see what we had taken care of. "
Eventually, said Schell, much of the work on the fitness trails might need to be done by volunteers. The work would presumably include removing a foot or more of silt from portions of the trail that borders the river. That task would likely uncover further damage to the asphalt trail underneath.
Major sections of the hiking and biking trail were placed atop dikes that followed the course of the river, such as the lengthy section running from the water treatment plant to the west bypass. Much of that section was destroyed by heavy equipment used to increase the height of the dikes. Even though the increased diking has been removed, much of the asphalt fitness trail was reduced to a dirt pathway.
"The water treatment plant to Bark Park trail needs to be repaired," remarked Schell.
The bidding process has begun on restoring the section of trail referred to by Schell. The section was designated as fixable with FEMA funds. The hope is to begin reconstruction of that portion of the fitness trail as early as next spring.
A Master Plan of Trails for the city was created in 1996 by the Trails Committee. It is part of the city's Transportation Plan. The plan calls for creating a series of connecting fitness trails that would eventually encompass the entire city of Minot.
New housing developments, such as the one undergoing rapid expansion northeast of the airport, are including fitness trails designed to tie in with Minot's existing trail system. Other proposed trails include one leading west from the YMCA and then turning north to connect with the trail that passes near the Bark Park.
"Our committee is just a bunch of people, patiently pointing out the direction of the future," said Schell.
The trail system is not limited to Minot. One section leads along Country Club Road to Burlington. Recently there has been interest in constructing a trail that would connect Minot and Velva.