In an area of tens of thousands of bicyclists, it's only natural that the longest bicycle bridge ever built in Wisconsin is coming to Dane County.
The Lower Yahara River Trail, eventually connecting Lake Farm County Park to Stoughton, will include over a mile of bridges and boardwalk, starting on the north shore of Lake Waubesa to McDaniel Park in McFarland.
Dane County officials announced today that a $5.9 million contract has been awarded by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to Janke General Contractors, Athens, to begin construction of the 2.5 mile first phase of the project, which includes the bridges and boardwalk.
The target completion date of the first phase is the summer of 2017. It will be the longest pedestrian/bicycle bridge and boardwalk that hasn't previously been used by trains or vehicles.
"We are excited to begin construction on this long-anticipated project, and thankful to have the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as a partner to assist us with completing this very complex first phase of the trail," said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
The $5.9 million contract uses about $4.6 million in state-administered federal funds from the Federal Highway Administration Transportation Alternative Program and $1.3 million in county funds, officials said.
"Dane County has some of the best biking paths and access in the world," Parisi said. "It is an important component to our quality of life, that attracts many people to move and live here."
County parks staff is already working this winter to clear trees from the trail corridor, with the timber from the trees used to build frame shelters at other county parks, as well as a fish habitat project on the north shore of Lake Waubesa.
The trail will feature an accessible fishing pier near the railroad trestle on Lake Waubesa, along with rest stops and observation areas.
The total budget for the trail is about $10.5 million.