Dane County and Westport officials have announced an expansion to the North Mendota Trail, which will span from Governor Nelson State Park to Woodland Drive.
The announcement came at a Feb. 5 press conference in Westport.
“We’re about to kick off the next phase – an important phase – of our project in the North Mendota Bike Trail,” said County Executive Joe Parisi. “We have trail to the north, and trail to the south. And in between is the piece that we’re about to embark on later this month.”
Parisi said project designs include a boardwalk to measure more than a quarter mile in length, and that the pathway will include a clear-span bridge over Six Mile Creek.
The remainder of the bicycle path would be paved with asphalt.
The cost of the project has been estimated at approximately $1.4 million. Wisconsin DNR has awarded a stewardship grant of $245,000. Parisi said the county will fund the other $1.2 million.
“Everyone coming together is making this a reality,” Parisi said. “This is not an easy thing to do when you’re in a fast-growing county like we have. So we’re very fortunate that we’ve been able to put the pieces together.”
He said a large portion of the trail would run parallel to Hwy. M.
The county executive explained that the off-road path should reduce bike traffic on the highway, where a 37-year-old cyclist was killed by an inattentive driver in 2012.
“As time’s gone on,” Parisi said, “the traffic on M has become quite intense. It’s not really the safest place for people to bike alongside of. Unfortunately, a few years back, we had a fatality on this road. So… We appreciate the work that everyone’s put into making this happen.”
Westport administrator Tom Wilson said the project was only possible because of collaboration with state and local agencies, such as the DNR and the Dane County Highway Department.
He cited the fact that the trail would be built within their right-of-way.
“This part of the trail was probably the toughest nut to crack,” Wilson said. “This is something that is difficult to get through, with the river and building a bridge…And Pam Dunphy at Dane County Highway has been very helpful in allowing us to build part of this on their right-of-way.”
Wilson expressed gratitude to both the state and county for funding the project. He concluded his speech with words of thanks to a property owner who granted the town an easement for the trail.
“Dick Munz gave us a 30-foot easement across his property to be able to build this over several acres,” Wilson said, “from Woodland Drive all the way to the bridge basically. And without him giving us that easement, this would not have happened.”
Parisi said the county hopes to complete the expansion within a year.