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City of Madison is planning a major path project to reconstruct or resurface asphalt paths in Warner Park in 2013, including building two new bicycle / pedestrian bridges. The bridges span small inlets connecting to the lagoon in Warner Park and replace the existing bridges, which are in poor condition. This is a cooperative project of City Engineering and Madison Parks to maintain the Park's path infrastructure for recreation, general enjoyment of the park and special events as well as to enhance the main north-south path to meet current AASHTO standards for bike path safety.  All paths will be designed to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards to the maximum extent practicable.

The overall project consists of reconstruction or resurfacing of most of the existing bicycle and pedestrian paths in Warner Park, located on the north side of Madison.  The main north-south path from Troy Drive to Sheridan Drive will be reconstructed from its current 8-foot width to a 10-foot wide path, generally in the location of the current path.  This path is part of the City's bicycle commuter network and the proposed width is consistent with the minimum width used throughout the network.  The alignment will be modified for two short segments to improve geometry for bicyclists and reduce conflicts with other park users near the shelter. These changes also reduce the overall length of this path.

The main path crosses three small inlets to the lagoon in the Park.  The existing bridges over two northerly inlets are small timber structures which are in poor condition requiring frequent maintenance and patching of approaches. These bridges also do not meet current ADA standards. The project would replace these with attractive new bowstring arch bridges which meet current standards. 

Several other less-used connecting paths in the park have very deteriorated pavement.  The project would resurface these connecting paths at their present width in their current location. Proposed improvements are shown on the PDF of Project Location Map.

Aesthetic treatment of the bridges is an important aspect of this project as they are located near the Community Center and the main shelter, an area of the park visited by many thousands of users throughout the year for recreation and special events. The current concept is a pre-fabricated steel bowstring arch bridge made of weathering steel with concrete deck.  Abutments will be cast-in-place concrete with an architectural surface treatment. Cut natural stone "steps" around the abutments will accent the bridges and provide easy access to the water.

The overall project will be designed and let by City of Madison. Construction is timed to  avoid the summer months when park usage is heaviest. After construction begins it may preclude some park uses and events during the Monday-Friday work week, but efforts will be made to allow most weekend uses.

The overall project includes approximately 1.5 miles of existing bicycle and pedestrian paths.

The main north-south path from Troy Drive to Sheridan Drive will be reconstructed for a length of about 4,300 feet. Total length of resurfaced paths is approximately 3,670 feet.

Contract is scheduled to be advertized for bids on May 10, 2013. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in late-August of 2013 with completion by early-November 2013.

The project will use City of Madison funds, with the main path and bridges paid for under Engineering – Bikeways and the connecting path resurfacing to use Parks funds. Total cost is estimated to be around $600,000.

As of February 14, 2013:

Paths and bridges are being designed and preliminary plans are being prepared.

A public Information Meeting is scheduled for:
Thursday, March 7, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Warner Park Community Recreation Center

City Engineering and Parks staff will provide information about the project and seek input on the design.  All interested citizens are encouraged to attend.

Public Comments
Have a question or comment on this project? Use the Public Comment Form.
Posted: 08/29/2013
I am an avid user of Warner Park and enjoy the bike path on a daily basis. My husband and I walk through the park almost daily. I understand that the path and bridges could use some updating/repairs but am truly disappointed/confused/disgusted at the unnecessary expansion which includes cutting down large, beautiful trees along the way. I have never noticed a problem with overcrowding or congestion on the path between bikers, walkers and runners. I am seriously disappointed/dismayed/angered at this decision and feel there could have been alternative decisions made. What felt like a retreat as I travelled over the bridges and on the path now feels disturbed, destroyed and altered forever.
Posted: 08/19/2013
It's Forster Drive, not Forester. Kudos for your project on upgrading this path.

City Staff Response:
Thanks for the correction and kudos.
Posted: 08/15/2013
Thank you for investing the time and resources to improve the Warner Park Bike-Walking path. I have walked and biked this path for 45 years, and I often escort my 80 year old parents on it. There is one really horribly hot stretch of the path they find impossible to walk because it doesn't have any shade trees alongside it to offer respite from the sun, and doesn't have any benches to sit on for the elderly and handicapped to rest. The area I'm talking about is the stretch from Forester Dr to the first bridge located north of the shelter house. It seems like this would be a great time to address these two issues with very little additional cost, by adding a couple benches to that stretch of the path (while giving the plows a few feet of clearance), as well as a half dozen trees placed along the sunny east side of the path to offer some badly needed shade. The previous rationale that trees would block the view of the R&B fireworks is no longer valid.

City Staff Response:
Thanks for this excellent suggestion. When the current construction contract is completed in November, Parks Div will look into the possibility of addtional benches and trees in this stretch for next year.
Posted: 08/12/2013
This is the first I have heard of this project and only found out because I have seen quite a few white tags on trees around the park. Now I know why. I am appalled by the number of large oak trees that appear to now be in the way of "progress" for the park. While I agree that the paths need to be redone, as a frequent user of the park paths, I have never seen a situation where it wasn't wide enough to accommodate walkers, runners and bikers at the same time - just a quick step off the path to go around and then back on it. There is no need to widen the paths based on what I have seen - 8 to 10 feet are wide enough for a car! And, I've never felt unsafe crossing the bridges.

If all of the trees are indeed in line to be cut down, I guess the destruction of Warner Park continues. Nothing new for the North Side. I'm disgusted and saddened if indeed these trees are going to be cut down. What's next? As it is, the park is almost nothing but big area of grass that no one uses. Oh wait, people do use it for picnics ... under the trees!

City Staff Response:
The Warner Park paths project will be removing approximately three trees, including a large cottonwood, all in the immediate vicinity of the existing bridge just north of the shelter. There are no other trees being removed (except one small tree that Parks is transplating) throughout the Park. Some trees that are near the construction and must be protected by the Contractor have been marked with yellow tape that says "Tree Preservation" on it. City Forestry does not use white tags to indicate tree removals or for any other purpose I am aware of, so I am not sure who placed the tags or what  they are intended to indicate. For more information about the project feel free to call tony Fernandez at 26609219.
Posted: 03/28/2013
First, I would like to express gratitude to the Parks Department for scheduling a reconstruction of the bike path within Warner Park. This path is used extensively throughout most of the year, and in particular during special events conducted nearly every weekend throughout late spring into early fall. Least not forget all the other users on a daily basis.

I have reviewed the plans, and they are exceptional. If constructed as planned, approaches across both bridges will be a great safety improvement for both pedestrians and cyclists.

Indeed, since residing near the park for the past 40 years, and using the pathway system routinely, I would be neglectful in also mentioning that there is a dire need for a continuation of the path near the front of the bath house, going north on Woodward Dr. towards Forester Dr.

If you review the commuter data of increased travel by motorist cutting through the backside of Warner Park, and the increase of both pedestrian and bicycle traffic along this corridor, it is indeed warranted to review the potential of extending the path for a continuous loop for park users.

The current bikeway/pedestrian system for Warner Park encourages park users to walk around the park, and this is most evident during sponsored walks and fundraisers. Currently, pedestrians must walk against traffic from the bath house to Forester Dr. to rejoin the path. Increase in vehicle speed, a street downgrade, and pedestrians forces to walk into traffic is not good. I would recommend a street crosswalk at the end to the right-of-way along the north side of the street, then a path at least up the hill to the railroad tracks.

Additionally, I would suggest contemplation of maybe extra paving for tables and trash cans along the path along Forester Dr. Their is very obvious inadequate facilities and common use areas for the summer long daily use of this area by soccer players and their families. It is apparent that soccer is being promoted throughout the park, (and in particular this specific area) yet facilities have not been developed for users, (similar to the softball complex). If you monitor occasionally, you will notice that the constant use by participants is starting to conflict with path users, not to mention grassy areas starting to be worn into dirt. During seasonal rains, soccer fans use the bike path as a seating area because there is no other place suitable to watch from, (and I don't blame them). As long as you are contracting asphalt repaving, would it not be practical to additionally review this additional need?

Thanks, appreciate your review....

Steven Cardarella

City Staff Response:
Thank you for your comments. They have been passed along to Engineering for consideration of the sidewalk connection and to Parks for consideration of additional park amenities along Forster.
Posted: 03/26/2013
I agree that the path along Woodward needs to be included in this plan. It is difficult for city crews to clear in the winter and really becomes dangerous for bikers and walkers.
Posted: 03/15/2013
I live near Warner park and use the path as a pedestrian, bicycling commuter, and dog owner just about every day. I am really looking forward to the proposed improvements, as right now this stretch (one of the only off-street bike paths available on my route) is just about the roughest part of my commute!

While I understand the nostalgia for the old bridges, updating them makes a lot of sense. As of now, they are too narrow to plow, so they are left snow-covered in winter. They are very slippery when wet or icy, and their steepness makes it treacherous for smaller kids on bikes, wheelchairs, and people with physical disabilities. Wider paths will also mean more room for when kids fish from the bridges, and make it easier to be polite when passing as a bicyclist or dog walker. The reality is that the paths are used by a wide variety of citizens, and these changes seem to accommodate as many of their needs/abilities as possible.

My one recommendation to the plan is a much needed connection between the Woodward sidewalk and the Forster path near the railroad tracks. This loop is used so heavily year-round by seniors, parents, walkers/joggers, and it is dangerous and inconvenient to have to walk in the street, especially in the wintertime.

City Staff Response:
Thanks for the comments.We hope the new path and bridges wil be a lasting improvement for a wide variety of users. The exact alternative is subject to approval by the Board of Parks Commissioners, which referred their decision until thier April 10 meeting.  The sidewalk connection is more complex than it seems because it requires modifying the RR track crossing, in turn requiring a petition, public hearing and approval from the Office of Commissioner of Railroads. That is beyond the scope of this project, but  your comment was forwarded to the Supervisors responsible for planning future projects. 
Posted: 03/13/2013
I strongly support the creative suggestions made by Wild Warner about the changes to the location of the bike path in Warner Park. Kudos to the group for developing these alternatives! I live very close to Warner Park, and bicycle through it nearly every day in spring/summer/fall on my commute downtown. I also walk through the park many times a week throughout the entire year.

As someone who is very familiar with the bike path and the varied uses of the park, I agree that Wild Warner's proposed changes will help avoid conflicts with the many activities at the shelter. Also, though I think it is very important to accommodate people with disabilities, I am opposed to removing the beautiful wooden bridges (though I realize they need some repair). They are beloved locations for manywalkers, children, wedding couples, and people fishing. They are among the most special places in the park. Wild Warner's proposed changes could avoid the need to take these bridges down, create a better bicycle route, and also be designed to assure access for people with disabilities.

Please adopt Wild Warner's suggestions and do not remove the special wooden bridges! Repair them as needed but keep them there.


Maria Powell, PhD
1311 Lake View Ave
Madison, WI 53704
Posted: 03/07/2013
I am a 62 year old Sheridan Drive resident with twenty years in the neighborhood. I walk through the park every day in good weather, for exercise and relaxation.

How many trees will be cut down in order to build the widen path? Since when has cutting down trees in a park been considered an improvement?

As the path is currently mainly used by pedestrians for strolling in the park, often with their children, I don't understand the necessity of turning it into a bicycle highway. Widening the path will certainly increase the speed at which bicycles travel and accidents, and near-accidents with pedestrians , as well as confrontations will certainly result.

Try walking on a bicycle path and see if cyclists will yield to you they won't. Too many would rather knock someone over than give way. Woodward Drive is a very wide street and not heavily traveled. It's a perfectly reasonable route for bicyclists use in getting through the park and out to the northwest side.

I am certainly not looking forward to having to keep looking over my shoulder while walking in the park, lest a spandex-clad racer flattens me.

Too much of Warner Park has already been paved over. As the plan now stands, I oppose it.

City Staff Response:
Thannks for your comments. Our experience is that bicyclist speed is mainly controled by physical ability, not the width of path. However, by providing a little extra width we allow more comfortable passing, making shared use of the path safer and less stressful for pedestrians.It is certainly our goal to encourage bicyclists to follow our guidelines for courtesy, including yielding to slower users and announcing their intention to pass. We believe our paths can serve the needs of a variety of non-motorized uses, while encouraging more walking and biking, for the benefit of health and the environment.
Posted: 03/04/2013
I walk the Warner loop daily in the Summer and as often as is safe in Winter. It's a special place with the lake and the lagoon and the wildlife. I was surprised to hear about the improvement project. I guess I've been oblivious to the problems other than some low areas on the path that really puddle up. I hope low spots can be minimized. I won't be in town for the meeting which bothered me initially because while those bridges are pretty rustic, I love the curve of them and the natural material and I worried you may slap something grotesque in their place. I feel better after reading about the project. Thank you for making this information available. I should trust that in Madison, aesthetics will be valued and incorporated, but I lost the faith for a few days. For what it is worth, I see many more walkers than bikers in my travels, but perhaps the improvements will change that. I agree with an earlier comment that what would make the Warner loop walk perfect would be to avoid walking in the street for that short section down by the beach. Please do put a note in the file for down the road. Thank you for the conversation.

City Staff Response:
Thanks for the comments. Information from the meeting will be posted on the website.
Posted: 02/27/2013
I walk the paths at Warner Park at least three times per week, and I am looking forward to the improvements. Is there a plan to put sidewalks along Woodward so that the entire loop can be completed without walking in the street?

City Staff Response:
Thaks for your comments. City Enginering has no plans at present to continue sidewalk on Woodward Drive, but that could be considered in the future.
Posted: 02/21/2013
Thank you for re-doing this area! I currently avoid biking Warner and add 5 minutes to my commute b/c of the conditions.

As a biker, i would like the bridges wider (it sounds like they will be, but how wide?). When there are folks fishing, it's hard to get by. I do like the arched look, so if enough arch can stay for aesthetics and still stay ADA compliant, that'd be great.

See you at the meeting.

City Staff Response:
We are proposing to have 14 foot horizontal clearance on the bridges to accommodate the 10' path and 2' wide shoulders. The extra width gives bikes some "shy distance" from the railings and provides a more comfortable experience when bikes and pedestrians or people fishing share the bridge. We are proposing a "bowstring" shape for the bridge, which will give an arched appearance to the bridge while keeping the path surface relatively flat, for aesthetics and to achieve ADA compliance.
Posted: 02/20/2013
Thank you for making this a priority this year; repaving of the paths will be a great improvement! As a bicyclist who rides through Warner Park on a daily basis (not during snow/ice season), I appreciate the attention you will be giving to replacing the wooden bridges and making the paths wider to accommodate bikes and pedestrians. I have called in repair requests on the bridges before when slats had crumbled or been removed; the entry onto the bridges is a hard bump and I am glad the new bridges will be ADA compliant. More room on the bridges will make it safer for all as well.

I ride through Warner Park as it is safer than being on the streets as I transport my child to school; it is a beautiful ride and I enjoy seeing the wildlife at different times of the year. Thank you for posting the plans.

City Staff Response:
Thanks for your comment.
Posted: 02/20/2013
I would try to flatten them out. Why do they need to be humped up so much?

Also putting a bench to sit on would be nice.

City Staff Response:
The new bridges being proposed would be flatter, providing smoother ride for bikes and less-steep grades for pedestrians and handicapped users. A bench could be considered.
Posted: 02/19/2013
I oppose any visual changes to the "Warner Park Bridges Look" and believe that increasing width and a cement based structure will certainly do just that.
Nevertheless I will remain open and come to the forum to see the proposed "look".
I do not believe that this part of the bike path would be heavily enough travelled by bikes for justifying such change. I would like to see numbers of how many bike riders actually use this path on a daily basis to go to work.

This trail is traditionally used in the majority by pedestrians and runners who want to enjoy one of the last romantic places in town and want to relax.

The present simplicity of the structures and the beautiful overarching trees close by provide calm and a rather slowing down time kind of effect due to it's tightness and roughness.
I feel that even if it's maintenance does cost somewhat more than a sanitized version of a bridge... let's stop and think if it might be worth it!

How many years of fixing up the bridge could be paid for by the money spent on changing it now?

Thank you for listening

City Staff Response:
Thank you for your comment.