Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dane Co. PARC grants will improve bicycle access

There is an article in the paper with all the grants from the Partners for Recreation and Conservation program, and the headline emphasizes the Verona soccer facility, but there are several bicycle-related grants as well, and I thought I'd emphasize them here.

There are three bicycle-related items on the list. Quoting pieces of the article:
The village of Oregon was the third $250,000 grant winner, for a new bicycling trail from Oregon to the Badger State Trail, about four miles to the west.
$100,000 for the Dawley Park bicycle hub and $3,300 for bike lane signage and marking on County D and PD to the city of Fitchburg.
$32,050 to the Friends of the Arboretum for restoration of the Grady tract and green prairie, bike access and trail improvements.
Also note that the recipient communities or organizations must match the grant amount, so they definitely have some skin in the game.

The Arboretum project is the only one that I am really familiar with. The director of the Arb called me last month to talk about this, and I told him how great this would be. It looks like the plan is to have a few accommodations off the new Cannonball Path where it passes the south side of the Arb. Water, bike racks (no bikes on the Arb trails!), a shelter, picnic table, information, etc. would allow path users a pleasant and convenient place to stop and enjoy the area.

In addition, this would add another entrance to the Grady Tract - the portion of the Arb south of the Beltline. Right now, the only official entrance is off Seminole Hwy, in the far NW corner. There are a number of places along the eastern side, near the apartments, where people enter the Arb, but these are often no more than places where the fence has been cut, and the Arb staff and scientists are not happy with the situation.

As to Dawley Park and the other Fitchburg improvements, I had to look up Dawley Park to find the location of this "bicycle hub."

Dawley Park is the area bounded by Seminole Hwy on the east, the Badger Trail on the West, the Cap City Trail on the north, and some development on the south. It is on the south side of the Cap City Trail from Dunn's Marsh. I'm not sure what they are planning, but there is no question this area is a hub for bike routes. The new Cannonball Trail will run north of Dunn's Marsh, so there will be a point where the Badger, Cap City, SW, and Cannonball will all be within a few hundred yards of each other.

Maybe someone from Oregon can chime in on where this new path will be from Oregon to the Badger Trail, because I don't see an old rail line that is ready to be converted. It's certainly possible that they are starting from scratch, but that generally means acquiring easements. On the other hand, maybe they don't really mean "trail," and instead mean "route," as in a signed on-road route with bike lanes.

Either way, It will be a nice addition.

What would be even better would be if they could figure a way to get the Badger Trail connected to Sun Valley Parkway (it currently runs under the road, and there is a pretty major elevation change.) This would allow families and less experienced bicyclists to get to Paoli without going over Sayles Trail. For those who haven't ventured past the paved portion of the Badger Trail - which ends at Purcell Rd - the next place you cross a road at grade going south is a little road called Henry Rd in Basco, almost 3 miles to the south. From this point, you are dumped onto Hwy 69, not what most trail users would chose.

A ramp from the trail up to Sun Valley Pkwy, and maybe bike lanes/a paved shoulder on the road, would provide good. safe access for less experienced cyclists all the way to Paoli. What a boon to businesses in Paoli!

Maybe someone from the village will work on that.

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