Build no more than what we can maintain

Yes, more biking and walking trails are desired by area residents. At least that is what we are told; we don’t doubt the claim.

But are local taxpayers prepared to maintain what we build? That is perhaps the bigger question.

As Minot Daily News reported last week, the North Dakota Department of Transportation is developing ND Moves, a first-of-its-kind plan that will guide the state in accommodating the ways people want to move during the next 20 years. Minot was one of the stops on a statewide listening tour to gather public comments on a plan to integrate biking, walking, public transit and even autonomous vehicles into the state’s transportation system.

The idea relating to walking and biking is to have more paths but also to tie them into other designated routes, thus linking communities and destinations together.

Minot has been diligent over the past 20 years or so when it comes to building or designating fitness trails. Yet, we dare say, the entirety of the trail system is highly underused. That is likely because Minot’s two main parks, Oak Park and Roosevelt Park, are so beloved by walkers and bikers. Yes, a few other segments of the trail systems gets some traffic. But not like the parks, which, at least on paper, are connected to other destinations in town by designated “trails.”

So, do we build more trails? Before we say yes, it would be reassuring to see a professionally done report on a) usage in Minot, and b) what the projected maintenance and replacement costs are for what we have already built. Only then can we consider spending new money on connecting with other “regional systems.”

The state DOT is taking comments now and expects to finalize a plan in the fall of 2018.

It will be interesting to hear how cash-strapped cities like Minot respond to the plan compared to other, better-off communities.