Wildwood-McMillan Connector Trail Vision Becoming a Reality
It’s been nearly a decade in the making and now the Wildwood-McMillan Connector Trail is officially becoming a reality.
“All approvals are in place. Funding is in place. It is happening,” said Public Works Director Dan Knoeck.
First submitted for a grant in 2008, the City entered into an agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) for the construction of a bike and pedestrian trail through the City of Marshfield. Originally planned for construction in 2012, a variety of funding, property acquisition, and scope challenges delayed the project. Finally, in early June 2017, the City received approval to seek bids for the project. Construction is expected to begin in mid-August, for completion in 2018.
“Because we are starting mid-season, not all will be completed this year,” said Knoeck. “Certain parts will need to be done this year, but we are not really dictating where the contractor can start. By giving contractor flexibility and not dictating their schedule, we’ll hopefully get a good bid.”
Involving State and Federal grants, the funding for the project has been complicated and involved several additional steps. At 1.8 million dollars, with State and Federal funding capped at $810,800, the project is being financed at about a 50/50 cost share with the City.
“We wouldn’t be able to do a project like this without federal and state funding,” said Knoeck. “This is a big boost to the community. It’s a significant segment of trail that is through the heart of our community. That’s a significant boost to our pedestrian trail network.”
With the vision of a bike trail to connect vital parts of the City, with the hub being Steve J Miller Park, various segments have been constructed throughout the years as projects have permitted. However, this final project will completely connect all of the separate parts.
What began as a vision of bike trails connecting key parts of the city, the first stretch constructed was the Greenwood Branch, near Lincoln Avenue. Next was the segment alongside Veterans Parkway. When Highway 10 was constructed, the trail towards Heritage Drive was constructed. When Yellowstone Drive was reconstructed, the portion towards Hewitt (connecting to the Hewitt-Marsh trail) was completed. Now, there will be connections made to the south (finishing at Wildwood Park) and north (finishing at West McMillan).
“The result is a nice east-west trail, but the north-south pieces are necessary to connect the trail and make it complete,” said Knoeck.
Once completed, the trail will provide convenient access throughout the City of Marshfield.
“People want to be outside. People want to be doing things on the trail. There are commuters that want to get back and forth to work. Trails provide that opportunity,” said Knoeck. “The idea is they connect major centers: the downtown, hospital/clinic area, Wildwood Park and so forth. That’s important.”
Furthermore, there is a healthy lifestyles element.
“There’s an active healthy lifestyles group in Marshfield and this ties in with their initiatives and goals,” said Knoeck. “Overall, promoting a healthy community is a benefit of having a trail system.”
In addition to these benefits, there is also the potential tourism factor seen by area trails like Green Circle Trail in Stevens Point and the famous Elroy-Sparta Trail in western Wisconsin.
“People like to travel to do different bike routes,” said Knoeck. “As we become more developed with our bike route system, it will likely be more attractive.”