ST. CLOUD - After about 19 months of work, the Beaver Island Trail extension in downtown St. Cloud is open. Mayor Dave Kleis held a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday morning.

He says, with the trail taking you much closer to the Mississippi River, the city can take advantage of our most important natural resource.

It is an asset. I can't tell you how many times that people say 'why doesn't St. Cloud embrace the river more, why doesn't St. Cloud utilize the asset we have?'  The most significant natural resource that we have in our state, and in our community.

Creating the roughly four-block extension was an engineering challenge, because of the steep banks along the river.  Kleis says it's only a four-block extension, but it is significant.

From St. Cloud State University to St. Cloud Hospital you now can walk, bike, roll, stroll without crossing a roadway. You can do that on the trail for the first time.

The cost for the project was over $6.2 million.  Funding for the project came from half-cent sales tax dollars, state bonding money from the convention center expansion, and a federal grant.

Still to come for the new Beaver Island Trail extension: a selfie spot will be added, historical banners will be put up, and the "St. Cloud" logo will be painted under Veterans Bridge.

Kleis says there's more to come too. He says the Rotary Club is still in the planning stages for a River Walk connecting the end of the Beaver Island Trail to Hester Park. And he says CentraCare is also committed to trail extension behind the hospital taking you all the way up to the Sauk Rapids bridge.