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Fish Hatchery Road

A complete reconstruction of Fish Hatchery Road in Fitchburg will begin later this year.

The city of Fitchburg is looking to the long-awaited reconstruction of Fish Hatchery Road — which will to begin this fall and run through spring 2021 — to transform its dingy, bumpy stretch of the urban thoroughfare into a vehicle-, bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly corridor.

The $22.5 million reconstruction of Fish Hatchery Road from McKee Road to Greenway Cross — funded by Fitchburg, the city of Madison, Dane County and tax incremental financing — will include new pavement, underground utility improvements, safer crosswalks and a bike path extension.

Samantha Herheim, an engineer with consultant KL Engineering, said the aim is to make the street a more attractive gateway into Fitchburg.

The goal of the project isn’t just to replace the pavement — which has long been cracked and buckling — but also to beautify the area and make it more appealing to pedestrians and cyclists.

Major intersections along Fish Hatchery Road — including McKee Road, Caddis Bend, Post Road and Greenway Cross — will see traffic flow and safety improvements. Each of the crosswalks on Fish Hatchery Road will be made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and there will be pausing or stopping areas on the median and pedestrian-activated crossing lights.

A bike path will extend along the west side of Fish Hatchery Road for bicyclists who may not feel safe riding on the roadway, as well as for pedestrians. A sidewalk will run along the east side for pedestrians.

Bicyclists and pedestrians “will have a better, more desirable place to be,” Herheim said.

Fitchburg has an extensive plan for landscaping along the street, including planting canopy trees and perennials in the medians and terraces, benches and trash cans, and decorative light fixtures.

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Currently, lighting is directed to the street, which makes night driving easier but leaves walkways dark. New lighting fixtures will also illuminate the sidewalks and the bike path.

“People really want to feel safe, and lighting will really help,” Herheim said.

The landscaping is prioritized to be more complex and lush on the northern part of the street and less complex on the southern part.

Fitchburg staffers and consultants will host a meeting to inform residents and road users about the reconstruction at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, 2969 Cahill Main.

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Construction is set to begin this fall primarily with preparation work, and crews will begin tearing out the current roadway and repaving with asphalt next year. During construction, traffic will be reduced to one lane in both directions. Businesses on both sides of the road will still be accessible.

“Business access may need to shift a bit as construction moves in front of their current driveways, but there is a plan to maintain access,” Herheim said.

Since the street will have fewer lanes during construction, Fitchburg officials and consultants are devising a regional detour route for through traffic, Herheim said. Those detour points would likely be at Highway M to the south and the Beltline to the north. Fitchburg also plans to manage local traffic that may drive through side streets.

The completed roadway will still have three lanes in each direction — two for vehicle traffic and a third shared lane for buses, bicycles and right turns. The shared lane would also be used for Bus Rapid Transit, should it be implemented.

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Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.