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Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bonding bill last week authorizing almost $1.5 billion in public construction projects, including $2.5 million in funding for the Wagon Wheel Trail in La Crescent.

The money will be used for the construction of a bridge over Hwy. 14 near downtown La Crescent to connect to the existing first two phases of the Wagon Wheel Trail, which will link downtown La Crescent with downtown La Crosse.

State Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, pushed for the funding to be included in the bill. The funding for the bridge puts the final piece of the puzzle to complete the trail in place.

City officials have put considerable effort into getting funding for the project, which was first conceived 15 years ago.

“The Wagon Wheel bridge will provide safe, reliable access to La Crescent and La Crosse for cyclists from all over as they check out the scenic panoramas on Apple Blossom Drive or any of the hundreds of miles of trails throughout southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin,” Sen. Miller said this week. “Fifteen years after it was first proposed, I am glad we have cleared the final hurdle to finishing this project.”

The bonding bill received bipartisan support and borrows a total of $1.5 billion to pay for $133 million in water and sewer projects across the state, $544 million for road and bridge repairs and $32 million to build three new veterans homes.

It also provides $90 million to expand affordable housing options, $25 million for schools to enhance their security and another $90 million for the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to fix ailing buildings.

The first phase of the Wagon Wheel Trail, from La Crescent to Shore Acres, was finished in 2015, and the second area, ending at the West Channel Bridge to connect to La Crosse, will start construction this year. The city had already received $1 million in funding for the completion of the project from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

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Coulee Courier and Houston County News editor

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