Village trustees plan to improve the safety of one of McFarland’s much-used trails.

The public works department has approved drainage improvements to the Lower Yahara Trail on Elvehjem Road between Hidden Farm Road and Holscher Road.

The area of land is lower than other parts of the village, and surrounding homes contribute discharge from sump pumps. Elvehjem Road does not have a curb or gutter for a storm sewer.

As groundwater gathers on the trail, it becomes slippery in the summer and icy in the winter.

The department of public works and the department of public utilities discussed drainage improvements at a joint meeting late last year.

The committee supported regrading the ditch so water flows better to the west as intended. Pipes will be installed under the trail to allow water to pass through the pavement as opposed to flowing over it.

“Creating this new network of piping is relatively simple and comparable to sump pump pits we have installed in other places where there is a higher propensity of groundwater,” Village Administrator Matt Schuenke said.

The village engineer is preparing a design for bidding this winter, along with other projects.

Hidden Farm Road is a high point along the trail, causing water to flow east and west into the corner of Holscher Road.

“What we found for both of these is that if … the ditching that is the area between the path and the street is cleaned back out to original design and original construction elevations, we open up drainage quite a bit. The concern is, we may be back in the same room in 15 years having the same conversation,” Town & Country Engineering President Brian Berquist said.

He proposed a concrete bottom to the ditch as opposed to a grass bottom to improve the flow.

On the east side of improvements, the existing storm sewer could be cleaned out with the replacement of pipes and added inlets. Gravel and dirt have collected and sediment pushed in by snow plows over decades.

“The problem has gotten progressively worse, which to me jives up with the idea that that ditch keeps filling up and up and up and up with just normal sediment and grass clipping accumulations, and if we can reopen that and reestablish that flowline, now we have a better and lower target for that water to get to,” he said.

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