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City of Madison Engineering | Photo Credit: Archie Nicolette


2003 Master Plan (PDF 12MB)

Powerpoint from 3/17/2014 Public Meeting (PDF 1MB)


Update from 3/17/2014 Public Meeting

At the first public meeting held for this project, attendees expressed a strong desire to see changes made to Wingra Creek that would improve the natural appearance of the channel.  The most popular option presented at that meeting was constructing littoral shelves to mimic a meandering pattern, while simultaneously dredging the channel .  Also up for discussion, was the possibility of installing a stone weir.  The purpose of the weir would be to stabilize low water levels and, therefore, reduce vegetation loss and help stabilize the eroding banks.  The discussion surrounding the weir was generally mixed. 

In order to determine if any of these possibilities were truly viable, several questions needed to be answered regarding the feasibility of both the proposed littoral shelves and stone weir.  Primarily, it was unclear if littoral shelves, and/or shelves combined with a stone weir would impact local flooding or existing storm conveyance systems.  To answer these questions, the City hired a consultant to create a hydraulic model of a proposed design, and analyzed this proposed channel geometry with and without a weir structure.  The modeling showed that there would be little to no effect on localized flooding due to the proposed changes. 

Based on these results, City Engineering developed a proposed plan that was presented at the second public meeting for the project, which was held on March 17th.  The current plan includes constructing approximately 6 littoral shelves that are each approximately 250 feet in length.  The shelves will be constructed on alternating sides of the channel to give the appearance of meanders.  The elevations of each shelf will slope from the existing bank to approximately the average summer water level.  The shelves will be subjected to regular flooding, so will be planted with wetland and flood-tolerant, native vegetation.  The 6 littoral shelves will be augmented with two floating wetlands that will be constructed to dimensions similar to the littoral shelves.  The floating wetlands are a purchased product that will be anchored to the existing shoreline.  For more information on the wetlands, please visit Midwest Floating Islands.  In conjunction with the littoral shelf construction, the channel will be dredged to a depth of approximately 5 feet.  In order to assure stable banks, 9-12 inch glacial stone will be used to armor all banks within the project area. 

The proposed weir was again discussed that the second public meeting and opinions remain mixed.  The discussion of the weir will continue but its installation will no longer be associated with this project.  If it moves forward as a project, it will be installed at a different time. 

In addition to the littoral shelves and dredging, two water access points (cut limestone steps) will be installed, one on each side of the creek.  Fishing access will also be provided at the railroad bridge and near an outfall. 

In the next couple months, the City will be moving ahead with this design and permitting process.  An informal, informational session will be held when the design is complete.

Summary of Phase 3 Options (PDF)

PowerPoint from 10/17/13 (PDF)

Update from 10/17/2013 Public Meeting

The Wingra Creek Parkway – Phase 3 project is back underway and is currently in the planning phases.  City Engineering originally proposed a shoreline stabilization project, including channel augmentations, in 2012.  At that time several stakeholders suggested alternative options for aesthetic and environmental improvements to the channel.  In order to fully assess these options, questions pertaining to feasibility and finances needed to be answered. 

Having answered feasibility questions and revised the budget for the project, we are now ready to resume the design process.  A public meeting was held on October 17, 2013, to present various options for channel modification and receive public input.  The PowerPoint used at this meeting can be found here.  A summary of options presented can be found here.

General discussion at the meeting focused meandering the channel, or installing visual buffers to mimic the appearance of a meander.  Several meeting attendees commented on maintaining as much of the existing vegetation as possible.  One of the options proposed was the installation of a cross-vein weir structure near Lake Monona, and opinions about this seemed mixed.  Several comments were also made about improving the dog access on the south side of the creek. 

Based on this input, City Engineering will prepare multiple design options, which will be presented at the next meeting.  These options will include one or more designs showing the narrowing and deepening of the channel, with constructed bends or littoral shelves to create meanders.  This channel geometry will be analyzed both with and without the stone weir.  The next presentation will include tentative placement of dog, canoe, and fishing access points, as well as storm outfall upgrades. 



Wingra Creek is located in a highly urbanized portion of the City of Madison. It is two miles long and runs from Lake Wingra to Lake Monona. Due to low velocity and poor water quality, the creek usually becomes stagnant in the summer months. It is listed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources as a 303(d) impaired water body.

Despite its seasonal lackluster appearance, Wingra Creek is still relatively popular among paddlers in the area. However, a shortage of access points and several shallow areas from sedimentation make canoeing the creek a challenging activity.

A highly-used bike trail follows along most of the length of the creek. Fish Hatchery Road, Park Street, and John Nolen Drive all cross Wingra Creek, making it a very visible natural feature within the city.

In late 2002, the City of Madison held a public meeting to assess community interest in addressing water quality and recreational concerns along the Wingra Creek parkway. The group was in favor of moving ahead to establish a master plan for the area that would focus on the needs of the neighborhood.

Early in the following year, City staff, Friends of Lake Wingra, and the South Metropolitan Planning Council held a community workshop where the participants were asked for their input on three areas of interest: environmental quality, recreation, and community building/education.

City Engineering staff used the comments from the workshop and the original 1994 master plan for the Wingra Parkway to write a 2003 update to the master plan to reflect the current needs for the area.



The project has been divided up into four phases. Phase 1 and Phase 2 are done. Phase 3 is scheduled for construction over fall 2014.

Phase 1: S Park St to Baird St  DONE

Phase 2: Fish Hatchery Rd to South Park St  DONE

Phase 3: Baird St to Olin Ave

Phase 4: Olin Ave to Lake Monona (except a small stretch in the middle)

Wingra Creek Parkway Phase 3
Wingra Creek
Wingra Creek
Wingra Creek
Wingra Creek
Wingra Creek


If you have questions regarding this project, please contact Sally Swenson , City of Madison Engineering, at 266-4862.