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This project is a paved multi-use (bicycle / pedestrian) path located in the former Union Pacific Railroad corridor.  Phase 4 extends from the existing Military Ridge Trail south of McKee Road to the junction on the Southwest Path, Badger State Trail and Capital City Trail.  Phase 2, adjacent to the UW Arboretum and Dunn's Marsh, extends from the Southwest Path / Badger Trail intersection to the west end of the completed Phase 1 project, approximately 0.7 miles east of Seminole Highway. 

Phase 4 includes a grade-separated (bridge) crossing of McKee Road.  Phase 2 will include access and an at-grade crossing of Seminole Highway. 

These segments together constitute about half of the overall 4+ mile Cannonball Path a major new commuter route linking areas residential areas of Fitchburg and Madison south of the Beltline with downtown Madison. The overall project is a joint effort between Madison and Fitchburg, with land acquisition partially funded by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Fitchburg is the lead agency for the Phase 2/4 project. The completed  path will connect neighborhoods with parks, major conservancy areas and the larger regional path network including Capital City Trail, Southwest Path, Military Ridge Trail and Badger State Trail, making it a key piece of the regional path network for recreation and transportation.

Map of the Cannonballl Path
View Map of the Cannonball Path (pdf)

Phase 4 (Military Ridge Trail to Southwest Path) 1.0 miles
Phase 2 (Southwest path to Cannonball 1) 1.36 miles. A short connecting path to the Dunn’s marsh neighborhood is included. These two phases were originally planned as separate projects, but will be combined into a single project.

Final plans are tentatively scheduled for November 2013, with construction in 2014

The estimated construction cost for Phases 2 and 4 is $2.2 Million including engineering and contingencies, of which approximately 80% will be Federal funds under the Transportation Enhancements program. The remaining local costs are being shared by City of Madison and City of Fitchburg. Land for the entire 4+ mile project was acquired from the Union Pacific Railroad in 2008 for $2.4 Million, which included $1.2 Million from WDNR under the Stewardship Program.

Update March 2014.
The segment from  Military Ridge State Trail to the Southwest Path (Segment 4) will be named Military Ridge Path. The bridge over McKee Road, which is in this segment, is currently under construction as a WisDOT project, with Fitchburg as the local sponsor. It is scheduled for completion in May 2014. The remainder of the path should be completed in late-August.  

Update: June 11, 2012
Please join us for a Public Information Meeting on the Cannonball Path Phase 2 & 4. This will be an opportunity to see preliminary plans, discuss the project with City staff and our design consultant, and provide input on the project.
  • City of Fitchburg Cannonball Path Phase 2 & 4 Public Information Meeting
  • Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2012
  • Time: Open House: 6:30-7:00 p.m.
  • Presentation: 7:00 p.m. followed by Q&A
  • Location: Fitchburg Public Library, Meeting Rooms A&B
  • More details (pdf)

Update: Spring 2012
The City of Fitchburg is the lead agency for the design and construction of Phases 2 and 4, in partnership with City of Madison.  Fitchburg is currently designing the path and working with WisDOT on funding and schedule.  Currently there is an unpaved gravel walking path for most of the length of the project which is open to the public.

An important component of the Phase 2 project is a large-diameter water main to increase reliability for nearby residential areas. Water main in this segment was installed under a separate contract in 2009/10.

Public Comments
Have a question or comment on this project? Use the Public Comment Form.
Posted: 07/14/2015
rode the unfinished section between belt line and Fish hatchery. VERY NICE!
What are the plans for Fish Hatchery? Cross, or use the sidewalk?

City Staff Response:
There will be a marked crosswalk with flashers at Fish Hatchery Road with a raised median in the center so bikes and pedestrians can cross one direction of traffic at a time. We also are planning the extension of the path east of Fish Hatchery and north to connect with the Wingra Path.
Posted: 07/13/2015
Curious: why is this named the Cannonball path?

Annoying public suggestion: mileage signs along the paths in Madison/beyond would be cool!

this public forum is great!

Thanks :)

City Staff Response:
"Cannonball" is a somewhat whimsical name given to the path by former City Engineer Larry Nelson. The rail line it occupies used to provide passenger service to SW Wisconsin way back when.  But even then the train was so slow that locals sarcastically called it the Cannonball. We decided to keep that bit of history alive with the path name.

We did install mileage signs on the Southwest Path (again at larry's direction) and there is an initiative under way to add route numbers and mileage marker to our major paths.
Posted: 06/24/2015
City officials,
Please move this Cannonball Path info to Under Construction instead of under Proposals in Design. Phase 6 should be under proposals but not the rest. It is very nice to see this project moving forward and the current phase that is under construction will be done in two short weeks.

City Staff Response:
This project (from Military Ridge Trail to the West Line of Arbor Hills) was constructed by City of Fitchburg has been moved to Completed Projects.

Cannonball Path Phase 5 (Beltline Highway to Fish Hatchery Road) has been added as "Under Construction", and yes, that project is due to be completed in about 3 weeks.

We will add a new project under Proposals in Design for Cannonball Path Phase 6, which will extend the original Cannonball Path east and north to the Wingra Path.
Posted: 04/28/2015
I'm a little disappointed that the cannonball extension to fish hatch is not going to be completed until 2016. I was surprised that the existing rail is not being pulled up. What is the "rail to nowhere" going to be used for? Any other updates about the fish hatch connection?

City Staff Response:
The Cannonbal Path Phase 5 extension from the Beltline bridge to Fish Hatchery should be completed by July 1 of this year. We are currently working on plans for the extension of the path from Fish Hatchery to the Winbgra Path, which we call Phase 6. We hope to complete that phase in 2016.

The existing rail continues to serve one customer, Vita-Plus, just west of Fish Hatchery Road. The railroad has no plans to discontinue use of that track from there to Downtown. Our path is planned to run alongside the rail right of way, but the rail will continue to operate.
Posted: 09/29/2014
just curious...will the bike bridge over McKee near Midwest stones be finished this fall (2014). The traffic down further...traffic is a bit nerving at the bike trail trying to get across Mckee (Badger).

Thanks for any info if you're able.

Robert Kudrle

City Staff Response:
We understand the bridge will be completed this fall. City of Fitchburg is the lead for this project. For the latest status contact Ahna Bizjak in Fitchburg's Engineering  Department at

Posted: 06/30/2014
When will the bridge over McKee road be done?
When will the phase 4 portion of the Cannonball & Military Ridge trail be paved? Any other other pertinent information would be appreciated!

City Staff Response:
City of Fitchburg is the lead on these projects. I believe the bridge and path will both be done by late-summer, but best to contact Fitchburg for the latest info.
Posted: 06/25/2014
Will the side walks on West Beltline Frontage Road be expanded to connect with the new bridge?

City Staff Response:
This question refers to Cannonball Phase 3, the bridge over Beltline. Yes, the long-range  plan is to complete sidewalk along the south frontage road, but there are major grade and real estate challenges. Could be a few years.
Posted: 05/30/2014
Is there a time frame for the continuation of the Cannonball Path northeast of the Beltline to Fish Hatchery?
Will the railroad that is currently there be removed, or will the path parallel that existing bit of track?

City Staff Response:
The segment from Beltline to Fish Hatchery, which we call "Cannonball Path Phase 5", will be constructed beginning September of this year. Because of the complexity and late start, it will not be completed until early-summer of 2015.

The existing railroad track is active and will remain, with the path parallel on the northwest side.
Posted: 05/14/2014
Is the Cannonball open to ride?

City Staff Response:
Cannonball Path is paved and open for riders from the connection to the Capital City Path near the east line of the UW Arboretum South Unit to the frontage road on the north side of the Beltline. The path continuing north to Fish Hatchery Road is not yet built. (There is a short piece of path but it does not go anywhere and should be barricaded off.)

West of this paved section there is a gravel surface on the path. It may be used, but we recommend it only for off-road type bikes and with caution as ther may be ruts and potholes. Also this section will very soon be under construction for the final paved path, and some or all of it will be closed for construction.  For the latest informatin on this section it is best to contact City of Fitchburg, which is overseeing this project. Contact Ahna Bizjak at
Posted: 05/06/2014
When will phase 4 (specifically the bridge over McKee) be open for use?

City Staff Response:
The bridge is scheduled for completion this month, but the paths connecting to it will not be done until August. The City of Fitchburg is taking the lead on this portion of the Cannonball / Military Ridge Path.  For the latest info on this, contact Ahna Bizjak at
Posted: 04/08/2014
Is there a timeline for extending the Cannonball Path NE from the Beltline to downtown?
BTW, the path network is an amazing project!

City Staff Response:
Madison is beginning to look at the continuation of the path east of Fish Hatachery Road toward downtown. Currently we are calling this Cannonball Path Phse 6. Most likely it would continue northeast along the rail corridor to Bowman field and then north to the Wingra path, which then continues into downtown. This project is not yet in our budget and could not happen sooner than 2015.
Posted: 04/01/2014
The SW/Badger/Military Ridge/Cannonball/Cap City interchange is fantastic. I love that we bikers have our own overpass, ramps, and intersections. All we need now is a roundabout!

However, it's confusing to new bikers, and this will get worse with the Military Ridge Path. Has much thought been put into signage? For example:

This could be a good opportunity to get local bike groups involved. In Europe, a lot of the trail signage and distance markers are maintained by volunteer groups.

City Staff Response:
Fitchburg has developed a nice signing plan for the confluence of all those major paths. For more info please contact Ahnaray Bizjak of Fitchburg Engineering at  There is also an initiative by Madison, Fitchburg, other metro municipaities, led by Dane County to develop a guide sign system like you are suggesting.
Posted: 01/10/2014
Just read the Cap Times article on an extension of the Cannonball from Fish Hatchery Road to the Wingra Creek Trail. Can you post a map and update of this segment. Very exciting!

City Staff Response:
This project is in an early planning stage and not yet in our budget. The general corridor is northeast along the railroad tracks for about 1800 feet, then north through Bowman Field and along the east side of Wright M.S. When the planning is further along we will post a map and description on BikeMadison. For more info contact Tony Fernandez in Engineering at
Posted: 09/13/2013
No updates since 2012. I'd like to know what the status is currently of the two phases listed above. Specifically, when will the pavement be completed going west to Seminole Hwy?
Thanks, Don

City Staff Response:
The phase going west across Seminole Highway and  continuing southwest across CTH M should be completed by early 2014. Fitchburg is the lead agency for this work. A final phase north of the Beltline will extend the path to Fish Hatchery Road, with construction planned for 2014. (ASF 9-13-13)
Posted: 08/26/2013
I just took the Cannonball Trail spur off the Cap City trail for the first time last week. I had no idea where it went but was up for an adventure. Very nice work!

I just came up the Military Ridge trail yesterday and noticed some construction near the intersection of McKee Road and 151, which brought me here. I was wondering what the timeframe for the completion of phases 2 and 4. Not having to cross at the intersection and instead having a bridge/tunnel across/under McKee would be awesome!

Thank you for your work to make Madison even more bike-friendly.

City Staff Response:
Thanks for the comment. I think the bridge over McKee Road will be completed early in 2014 along with the paving of Phases 2 and 4. Contact City of Fitchburg, Engineering for the most current informaiton on those phases.
Posted: 07/12/2013
What is the purpose of Phase 2? It seems to duplicate the Capital City trail running parallel with it in that area.

City Staff Response:
We are confident both paths will be used. Cannonball Phase 2 will have very good geometry (gentle curves and flat grades) which support higher speed commuter and rec riders, as well as meeting ADA standards. This segment of the Cap City has some sharp curves and steep grades.  It will continue to be well used for nieghborhood access and for its scenic character. Also, because we purchased the Cannonball property anyway as part of the larger project, the paved path can be placed on the old rail bed quite economically
Posted: 09/10/2012
I am really excited about this project. I hope construction can get under way in 2013! Thanks.

City Staff Response:
Thanks for the comment.  I forwarded it to City of Fitchburg, which is taking the lead on these phases of the Cannonball Path.  For questions, contact Ahnaray Bizjak of City of Fitchburg Engineering at 270-4262.
Posted: 07/06/2012
Before lighting the trail up at night please watch this program. We are eliminating the stars and adding light pollution to our city. If you have a trail that runs behind your house, think of how it will light up your back yard in the morning and at night. Also, the animals that lives along the trail will be affected as well, particularly those that hunt for food after dark.
Posted: 06/11/2012
Undoubtably this is one of the most important bicycle facility improvements being undertaken in Dane County. It's the missing link in the emergence of a fantastic network of trails and bike paths that benefits commuters and recreational cyclists. A safe crossing of Highway PD is overdue.
Posted: 11/15/2011
These bike trail proposals in design and under construction should have maps so we can visualize where they are located. This would add a lot to this site.

City Staff Response:
Good suggestion.  We will try to get a map of this on the web.