Capital City Path Segment 4-6 (Vondron Road to I-39/90)

Last Updated: 09/15/2017


This project is a key segment of a paved multi-use (bicycle / pedestrian) path that is planned to extend the Capital City Trail from Buckeye Road to east of Interstate 39/90 on the southeast side of Madison, generally following the corridor of the Union Pacific rail line. This is part of the remaining 6-mile “missing link” between the Capital City Path and the Glacial Drumlin State Trail in the village of Cottage Grove. When complete it will become part of a continuous 140-mile path across the State. Completion of this gap is the goal of a 1996 Memorandum of Agreement between the City of Madison, City of Fitchburg, Dane County and the Wisconsin Department of natural Resources.

The Segment 4-6 project will construct the path from Vondron Road to just east of I-39/90. It will include an improved bicycle and pedestrian crossing of Vondron Road, a bridge over a small waterway and a path under the Interstate using the existing railroad bridge underpass. It will generally consist of a 10-foot wide asphalt paved path with 2-foot wide grass shoulders along the south side of the rail corridor. Retaining walls, concrete pavement and railings will be required under the Interstate, where the path will be located between the south bridge piers and the south abutment.

The City proposes to acquire a 20- to 35-foot wide corridor for the path by easement from the adjacent property owners along the south side of the rail right of way, as well as two small areas of permit within the rail right of way. The wider corridor will be on the WisDOT-owned World Dairy Wetland Mitigation site.

The overall project is envisioned as a multi-phase effort that would initially use a combination of separate path and on-street route north of the railroad corridor. Ultimately additional land would be acquired either from the railroad or from properties south of the railroad to complete a separate, off-street path.

Following are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Q: Could the Segment4-6 path be located on the north side of the tracks?
A: This was considered, but would have significant impacts on a number of residential properties, wooded conservation areas and a storm water management area. It also needs to be on the south side to connect with the planned continuation of the path to the Glacial Drumlin Path.

Q: Will the project include fencing to protect privacy or security of adjacent properties.
A: City does not generally construct fence along its paths and would do so only in very limited and unusual circumstances. Consideration will be given to replacing or compensating for the existing security fence at Terra Construction, as part of real estate negotiations. Our considerable experience with paths in similar locations is that they actually reduce illegal and undesirable behavior as legitimate path users and visibility are deterrents.

Q: Will there be lighting along the path?
A: Yes, the City plans to install well-directed lighting for this major, transportation-oriented path, with efficient LED fixtures on 20- to 25’ high poles.

Q: Is a connecting path to the Glacial Drumlin Trail planned as part of this project?
A: Yes, this is the long-term goal of this project. Dane County Parks as lead agency is working with WDNR to construct the path east of the Interstate to the village of Cottage Grove where it will connect to the existing Glacial Drumlin State Trail.  The City is working closely with Dane county to coordinate our projects with theirs, particularly in the vicinity of the Interstate crossing. However, questions about the design, status and schedule for the work east of the Interstate should be directed to Dane County Parks. 

The total length of the initial Segment 4 project is approximately 3200 feet, 300 feet of on-street route on Vondron Road. The remaining segments (to east of the Interstate) total 1250 feet, including the underpass.

Construction is currently planned for 2017 for Segments 4 and 5 from Vondron Road to the western limits of the Interstate only. Segment 6 going underneath the Interstate is dependent on the County project to the east and the Interstate corridor expansion project. City will not construct the remaining segment until the path to the east is completed, or at least has a firm construction schedule.

The total estimated construction cost for Segment 4 is $785,000.  This does not include substantial real estate acquisition costs, for which no estimate is available at this time. Estimated construction cost for Segments 5-6 is $512,000.

A Public Information Meeting (PIM) was held on December 10, 2015 to provide information about the proposed project and get feedback from the neighborhood or other interested citizens. No further PIM’s are scheduled at this time.
The City of Madison has completed surveying and is proceeding with preliminary design of Segments 4-6.  Only Segments 4 and 5 will be carried to final design at this time. We plan to define the easement requirements and prepare a plat in the fall of 2016. This will be followed by appraisals and easement acquisition by early 2017. City is coordinating with WisDOT, which now owns the rail corridor and with Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, which operates it under a lease.

View the map of the Capital City Trail, Buckeye to I-39. And the more detailed [map of Segment 4-6].

Public Comments: 

Comment Posted on 11/24/2015

I live on Pebblebrook Dr. and back up to the railroad tracks. Will the path go on the South side of the tracks behind me?

City Staff Response

Yes, the city's plan is for the path to be located on the south side of the RR tracks from about Leona Court to Vondron Road

Comment Posted on 03/04/2016

I have noticed that the Capital City Trail now lets out at a different location on Cottage Grove road. Will a new version of a paved trail connect the outlet on Cottage Grove Road with the part of the Trail in Acewood Park? The State owns the rail corridor in this area now, correct? Before, the city was unable to buy leeway from Union Pacific. Hence, the need to ride up Cottage Grove Road to Vernon and then south on Vernon to the Acewood section of the trail.

City Staff Response

the ultimate location of the path south of Cottage Grove Road to Acewood Park has not yet been resolved. this has not changed substantially since WisDOT acquired the corridor from Union Pacific. In most cases the operating railroad, Wisconson & Southern RR, opposes path uses in the corridor they lease from the State, and the State has been unwilling to press the point. We have made sure that WisDOT includes this connection in their long-range planning for bike and pedestrian accommodation in the USH 51 corridor but no firm plan or schedule is in place.