Dane County will use up to $270,000 in grants for the planning and design of a mostly off-road bicycle-pedestrian trail between the end of the Capital City Trail and the beginning of the Glacial Drumlin Trail, County Executive Joe Parisi announced Friday.
The link is crucial to east side bicycling efficiency and safety and south-central Wisconsin bicycle path route consistency, as currently the only connect between the two trails is a treacherously tight ride on Cottage Grove Road.
The planning is to begin this summer. Actual construction, said Parisi, depends on gathering more grant money. The planning grants are for $216,000 from the state Department of Transportation and $54,000 from the Department of Natural Resources.
The need for the missing section to be filled has been "highly recognized" by bicyclists for 10 years, Parisi said in a prepared statement Friday afternoon.
"This is something the bike community has expressed interest in for a long, long time," said Arthur Ross, the Madison's Pedestrian-Bicycle Coordinator. "As a project it is one of the most requested," said Casey Slaughter Becker, a spokesperson for the county executive.
Ross said this particular stretch is the final piece to get to Cottage Grove, to make the connection to the trail head for Glacial Drumlin and then east to Waukesha. The connection is a perennial remark on long-term transportation plans.
"With this link in place, one could ride from Governor Dodge State Park all the way to Miller Park," said Parisi.
The gap between the two trails along Cottage Grove Road is about three miles. The planned route, not entirely on a road, would be about six miles.
Street routes are not yet designated for the section between the end of Capital City Trail and the beginning of an off-road path on an old railroad bed. But the off-road trail is planned to extend past Highway 51 from Wagon Trail Road in the city east along a railroad bed to where the Glacial Drumlin Trail now ends in the village of Cottage Grove. Dane County, the city of Madison, village of Cottage Grove and the DNR have been working together on planning and acquiring lands necessary for development of the trail for several years.