Neighborhood group hopes to buy, donate land for bike bridge

Bridge would connect downtown bikers, pedestrians to shores of Lake Monona
Neighborhood group hopes to buy, donate land for bike bridge

A neighborhood group hopes to buy and then donate a downtown property to the city of Madison to build a pedestrian and bicycle bridge, according to a release.

The group has submitted an offer to purchase 149 E. Wilson Street, according to the release. The group hopes to donate the land to the city so a pedestrian and bicycle bridge can be built across John Nolen drive, providing access to Law Park on Lake Monona.

According to the release, recent controversy over the development of a 127-united 14-story apartment building on the .37-acre site prompted neighbors to meet and discuss downtown livability and how the building would impact pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle traffic.

As the group talked about the effects on the area, they decided to put in an offer to purchase the property that is assessed at $2.1 million and donate it to the city, organizers said.

“We’re pretty sure that this hasn’t been done before, where neighbors band together and commit significant funds for such an enduring public purpose,” resident Steve Lesgold said in the release.

The South Capitol Transit Oriented Development District Planning Study identified 149 E. Wilson Street as one of the few possible locations to build the bridge, according to the release.

“It became quickly apparent that this property provides the ideal location to serve as green space and terminus to a pedestrian/bike bridge to Law Park that the city planners already have under consideration,” residents Marina Condos and Mary Waitrovich said.

According to the release, John Nolen Drive and the nearby railroad tracks have been barriers to pedestrians and bikers coming from downtown to get to Lake Monona and the trails and parks around it.

“It has taken a lot of confidence and commitment to pull this offer together, but in the end we’d like to be part of the solution and help to open up downtown to the shores of Lake Monona. We truly want to celebrate our lake,” resident Julie Van Cleave said.

The city of Madison Planning Commission is currently discussing a zoning ordinance change including eliminating setbacks in order to accommodate the proposed apartment building.