Biking enthusiasts will soon have a whole lot more to love about Clinton, as construction on an addition to the Mississippi River Trail nears completion. The project, which stretches from South 14th Street to Camanche, will wrap up more than $200,000 under budget, freeing up funds for a resurface of the pockmarked and potholed Discovery Trail.

“I would hope that once the trails are in good repair, a lot of people would take advantage of them,” City Engineer Jason Craft said.

The trail should be completely open for public use by this weekend.

Funding for the trail came from earmarks and grants. Craft said coming in under budget for the project was fortuitous, as repairing the decades old Discovery Trail would have been difficult to finance otherwise. He said most state grants focus on the creation of new trails, not fixing up existing ones.

The trails will further Clinton’s involvement in the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) project, the goal of which is to establish bike trails along the river from the headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. With one more addition to the trail, a dogleg from Fourth Street to South Second Street to be added in 2013, cyclists will be able to travel unimpeded from Eagle Point Park to Camanche. Currently, more than 3,000 miles of MRT trails exist across five states.

Clinton was introduced to the MRT program in 2003. Craft said it became a goal for the city to be an active participant in the program.

“We wanted to be a part of that,” Craft said.

Craft said the city also plans to expand the current Lincolnway trail farther along Camanche Avenue, where it would eventually meet the parallel-running Liberty Square trail at Fourth Street.

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