DescriptionThis planning-level project is a paved multi-use (bicycle / pedestrian) path that will begin at the existing Marsh View path at Highway 30 and continue along the former Soo Line railroad corridor and Starkweather Creek to City View Drive east of I-39. This is the second phase of a larger project to complete a path from the Starkweather West Branch path to I-39 and ultimately to Sun Prairie. This phase extends the path to the major retail and employment area at East Towne and gives the path regional significance. The City of Madison has long sought to develop a major, commuter-oriented bike path serving the East side of Madison Detailed planning began in early 2002 and in 2004 the City conducted an extensive public involvement process for the Starkweather Creek watershed looking at bicycle/pedestrian which recommended focus on the East Branch path as one of two "backbone" bike routes. (The other has been completed.) Because of its strategic location and path connections, it will be a major commuter route. An obstacle to planning has been uncertainty about the ultimate use of the rail line. In many locations this "rails-with-trails" path will not be feasible without easements or other arrangements to share a portion of the rail corridor. A growing number of such projects have demonstrated that true multi-modal use of rail corridors can have benefits for all stakeholders. The recently-aborted high speed intercity rail project was a lost opportunity to advance the path, but the City is determined to move forward with this project. The project will likely require a new structure for the railroad over Starkweather Creek, just west of I-39 that would provide width in the underpass for the path to cross under the railroad. This underpass would also accommodate an important connecting path linking Lien Road with East Springs Drive. Significant challenges include the need to cross USH 51 at grade and agreements for portions of the rail corridor.
LengthThe length of the project is approximately 2.4 miles.
ScheduleConstruction is not currently scheduled, pending further planning study and agreements with the railroad and WisDOT for necessary easements.
CostEstimated cost is not available at this time. Most likely, federal funds under the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program will be sought.
StatusMadison has completed a preliminary design and has budgeted funds for land acquisition. Staff and stakeholders continue to meet on a regular basis to advance this project.
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