Work starts on $5.9M bike bridge to link McFarland, Madison

Construction began Wednesday on a bike trail that will connect Stoughton, McFarland and Madison.

In a ceremony at McDaniel Farm Park in McFarland Wednesday morning, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi was joined by project stakeholders to kick off work on the Lower Yahara Trail, a $5.9 million project that will eventually connect Dane County’s Lake Farm County Park to McDaniel Park to Viking County Park in Stoughton.

The first phase of the project will develop nearly 2.5 miles and includes more than 1 mile of bridges and boardwalk.

Dane County officials said that when the Lower Yahara Trail is finished, estimated in the summer of 2017, it will be Wisconsin’s longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge and boardwalk unaffiliated with trains or vehicles.

The first phase will be funded with approximately $4.6 million of Federal Highway Administration Transportation Alternative Program dollars and $1.3 million of Dane County funds, Parisi’s office said. The county has provided an additional $593,290 to date for design and engineering of the trail.

The trail will include a fishing pier near the railroad trestle on Lake Waubesa along with rest stops and observation areas. Dane County Parks staff worked in the winter to clear trees from the trail corridor that will be used to build timber frame shelters at other county parks and for a fish habitat improvement project on the north shore of Lake Waubesa.

Parisi said the project is a collaboration with Dane County Parks, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Co., state Department of Transportation, McFarland, Madison, Monona, the Wisconsin Historical Society, GRAEF Engineers, KJohnson Engineers, the UW Milwaukee Cultural Resource Management Department, Ho-Chunk Nation and the Army Corps of Engineers since 2008.