Private funds sought to pay for rerouting county bicycle
path, building bridge over freeway
By BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press staff
Ozaukee County has been offered $1 million in state grants
to reroute a hazardous section of the Ozaukee Interurban Bike Trail and
build a bridge over I-43, but the fate of the project now hinges on a
local fund-raising effort started last month.
The Interurban Trail Advisory Council's Sustainability
Committee is charged with raising as much as $250,000 before the end of
the year to reroute two miles of trail in the Town of Grafton that leads
bicyclists and pedestrians along busy rural roads and highways.
"Instead of asking the taxpayers for money, we're trying
to encourage people who feel this is important to our quality of life in
Ozaukee County to contribute," County Administrator Tom Meaux said
Tuesday. "It's an important project that involves improving safety,
preserving the history of the trail and promoting economic development and
tourism in the county."
Organizers are optimistic about the public's response, but
the concept of relying on private donations to improve a trail funded
primarily with public money from states and local sources is untested. It
appears, however, to be the only way the improvement will become a
The County Board grudgingly approved a request to apply
for the $1 million grant last year, but made it clear tax dollars would
not be used to fund the local share. The board must formally accept the
grant if the project is to proceed and is expected to do so only if
donations have been secured.
Andrew Struck, a county planner and chairman of the
interurban Trail Advisory Council said the approval request will likely go
to the County Board this fall.
Formally opened in September 2002, the 30 mile Ozaukee
Interurban Trail runs the length of the county, primarily off-road along
the path of the historic interurban railway. In places, however, the trail
runs along rural roads, creating a safety concern in the Town of Grafton.
Traveling south between Port Washington and Grafton, the
off-road trail ends just east of I-43 and continues on roadways - south on
Ridgewood Road, west on Ulao Parkway across I-43, south on Highway W and
west on Terminal Road -- before picking up the off-road interurban route
The new route would bypass those roads and highways
following the path of the interurban railway all the way to I-43, where a
pedestrian bridge designed to resemble the bike trail bridge over the
Milwaukee River in Grafton would span the freeway. On the west side of
I-43 the trail would continue off-road along he south side of Fire Ridge
Golf Course, then jog due south to connect with Terminal Road.
The project is important, Struck said, because it would
keep bicyclists, who now have to cross and ride along the heavily traveled
Highway W, off the thoroughfare. He also pointed out that the Ulao Parkway
bridge across I-43 has low railings and is poorly suited to bicycle and
pedestrian traffic, and residential development along Ridgewood Road has
increased traffic in the area.
In addition, the project would improve the reputation of a
trail that has already gained recognition throughout the state, Struck
said. The Ozaukee Interurban Trail is one of the first in the state to be
named a Great Wisconsin Birding Trail by the Department of Natural
Resources. It is also listed in the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's
state biking guide.
Trail construction is expected to begin next July with the
one year I-43 bridge project to begin in July 2006.
Several sponsorship packages, including the naming rights
for the new section of trail, are being offered to attract donations,
The county is also applying for other grants to defray the
cost of the project. Struck said organizers hope a $125,000 grant from the
DNR Stewardship Fund will cover half the local cost of the project.
For more information about the project or making a
Andrew Struck at 284-8270