CHIPPEWA FALLS — The Chippewa River State Trail project, which adds a new corridor of paved trail through Chippewa Falls along Park Avenue, gained approval Tuesday.

The Chippewa Falls City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to accept the low bid of $444,366 and award the project to Haas Sons of Thorp.

City engineer Rick Rubenzer had estimated the cost of the project would be closer to $398,000. Federal dollars cover 80% of the project, with the city and the village of Lake Hallie each responsible for 10%, Rubenzer said. Thus, the higher cost of the project meant the city was only responsible for an additional $5,000. Work will begin this summer and be completed this fall, he said.

Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman said he’s happy the city has gotten to the point where the project is now on the horizon.

“It’s been a long process,” Hoffman said after the meeting. “It’s been good to work with the village of Lake Hallie. There are a lot of people in the community excited.”

The portion that will be done this year is along Highway 124 from 40th Avenue in the village to the entrance of city limits, plus a five-block street in the city from Main Street to the Highway 124 bridge. The rest of the trail will be done in 2020 when Park Avenue is rebuilt between Main Street and the southwest corner of city limits, Rubenzer said.

The city’s Board of Public Works recommended approval of the contract when they met last week.

When completed, the 80-mile trail system will stretch from Cornell to Chippewa Falls, to Eau Claire, Durand and Menomonie, according to the state Department of Natural Resources website. The system includes the Red Cedar State Trail and the Old Abe State Trail.

In one final note, the application deadline for candidates to file for the 7th Ward seat is July 3.

City clerk Bridget Givens said no one has filed for the seat at this time.

Incumbent Robert Hoekstra, a pastor, has worked at Chippewa Manor for 34 years. However, he is moving to Jamestown, N.D., to lead a church there. He is resigning his council seat at the end of the month.

Hoffman presented Hoekstra with a plaque Tuesday, honoring him for his 10 total years on the council over three separate terms.

“I’ve always appreciated Robert, even if we didn’t always agree,” Hoffman said. “You always came in prepared and were knowledgeable.”

Hoekstra spoke at the end of the meeting, thanking his council colleagues and city staff.

Typically, if the council has more than one application, members will meet with each candidate before selecting the winning candidate. Chippewa Falls council members earn $3,000 annually. The person selected would fill the remainder of Hoekstra’s term, through April 2021.

Anyone who is interested in the position should contact Givens at 715-726-2719.