OLIVIA — Plans by the City of Olivia to develop a bicycle and pedestrian path along the community’s southern perimeter took a step forward Tuesday.

The Renville County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a series of resolutions at their regular meeting for the county to serve as fiscal agent and to support grant applications by the city for the project.

Olivia is working to undertake the second of three phases of trail development in the community. The first phase provides a trail around the southern perimeter of the Olivia Golf Course and links the BOLD High School campus to neighborhoods east of the golf course.

Phase two would pick up where phase one leaves off, according to Dan Coughlin, city administrator. The city is seeking funds to develop a 10-foot-wide, bituminous trail west from the school campus to U.S. Highway 71. The city is currently working with a landowner to secure easements for the trail.

The phase two link would connect to the Viking Drive neighborhood. It is not currently connected to city streets. The neighborhood’s only access is Highway 71. Pedestrians and bicyclists use the highway shoulder, which creates safety concerns.

The phase twp project also calls for developing a pedestrian-activated lighting system for crossing Highway 71 and connecting to the popular Pond Park and residential areas on the west side of Highway 71. This is also a safety issue the city would like to address. Coughlin noted that Pond Park is a popular destination for walkers as well as youth. Many young people are riding bikes with fishing poles in hand to try their luck fishing in the stocked pond.

The city administrator said the city is seeking state and federal grant monies in 2024 for the project, but is hopeful that the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program would advance the funds to allow work to be undertaken in 2022. That would allow the city to award work in conjunction with MnDOT when it awards projects to upgrade Highway 71 in the community.

Longer term, the city is hopeful of obtaining funding for a third phase to extend the trail from the current school campus to the RC Hospital and Clinics property along U.S. Highway 212.