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Capital City Trail

A lone bicyclist races last week along the Capital City Bike Trail near Clayton Road in Fitchburg in 2003.

As the orange barrels plague drivers during this year's summer road construction season, bikers are going to feel some of the pain.

On Friday, Dane County announced plans to resurface 6.5 miles of the Capital City Trail, a project that will leave users of the popular bikeway navigating detour routes. The exact detours and the schedule will be announced when plans are finalized in June. Work will target a segment from Fish Hatchery Road to Nob Hill Road, beginning sometime after July 4 and lasting until sometime in August.  

It’s the first phase of a multi-year restoration of the trail that will end in 2020.

“Dane County has a vibrant culture of biking and we have some of the best bike trails in the country,” said Dane county Executive Joe Parisi. “We will continue to invest in our quality of life our lakes our parks our trails. Whether it is the brand new Lower Yahara River Trail or the well-used Capital City Trail, Dane County will continue to lead the way on bike trails.”

The work on the Capital City Trail is the first major upgrade since the 17-mile paved trail was completed in 2000. The trail, which runs through south Madison and Fitchburg and provides a scenic ride past the Nine Spring E-Way, links to the Military Ridge State Trail, the Cannonball Trail, and the Southwest Commuter Path at a bicycle roundabout in Fitchburg. The Badger State bike trail runs through an overpass above the roundabout.

The trail draws more than 125,000 users a year.

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This year’s work on the trail will cost $948,200, with the bulk covered by Dane County. A Department of Natural Resources Stewardship grant will cover $244,465 of the cost, and a DNR trails grant will kick in another $45,000.

Cyclists can expect other improvements as well. This spring the city of Madison will extend the Capital City Trail from Buckeye Road to east of Interstate 39/90. The addition will include an improved bicycle and pedestrian crossing at Buckeye  Road, and the segment will be part of the 6-mile “missing link” between the path and the Glacial Drumlin State Trail in Cottage Grove, which will eventually fill in a continuous 140-mile path across the state. That project should be completed by June 15.

The city is also adding a segment from the south end of Demetral Park to Commercial Avenue. The segment will eventually link to an off-street path from the Yahara River Parkway Path to Commercial Avenue, which will link east side neighborhoods with the downtown. That project is slated to start on July 9 and be completed on Aug. 24.

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Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.