A Bicycle Artery for the Center of Madison         last update 7/24/2006
Links to information in this web-site:   (underlined text is clickable)
Path to Open in late August 2006.
History and Current Status of the Proposal  (updated 7/24/06) 
Interactive map and photos
Maps of right-of-way ownership and current uses
City, State & University contacts -- WRITE TO THESE FOLKS IF YOU HAVE COMMENTS
Vote on a name for the new bike/pedestrian path or propose a name before it's too late and we get stuck with something awful like "GWB Memorial Federal Multipurpose Pathway".
By tying together the bicycle trails of Madison, we can link the great bicycle resources we already have and make the bicycle a real Madison alternative for commuting and recreation. This path can be an asset for all of Madison, including cyclists, pedestrians, and adjacent business owners. It can make a corridor, already heavily used by pedestrians, a central artery for pedestrian and bicycle transportation.
Click on red path for a more detailed map.
The rail lines that once were the backbone of transportation for Madison are again providing the City with outstanding transportation opportunities. The Isthmus bike path and the new Southwest Commuter path are excellent examples. We should not forget that between Monona Bay and the Camp Randall area run rail right-of-ways that are underused or abandoned. These right-of-ways are primarily in State and City ownership and are either leased for parking or unused. With little purchase of property, a bike path can now be constructed that links Madison’s east and west sides.
The bike/pedestrian paths along the shores of Lake Monona and the Isthmus bike path tie much of the east and near south sides together. The Southwest Commuter path which was completed to Camp Randall in the fall of 2001 and the Black Hawk trail will provide links within the near west and the south-west sides of town. By linking these east and west side path systems through the middle of Madison, safe and convenient commuter and recreation bicycling can become reality for Madison.
To complete the link between the east and west sides, the Southwest Commuter path should be extended along the inactive rail right-of-way all the way east to Park Street rather than terminating at Randall Street.From Park Street to Monona Bay there are two parallel 50 foot wide right-of-ways. One is used by the current rail traffic moving through Madison. The other of these 50 foot right-of-ways is currently unused in some sections and is used for parking in other sectionsFrom Park Street east, the new path should follow this 50 foot right-of-way straight to Monona Bay where it would meet the Lake Monona bike path. .

A current-use map of this transportation corridor shows that its use is primarily unrelated to transportation. A map of the current ownership shows that the right-of-ways are primarily owned by the state and city with short sections owned by Wisconsin Southern Rail Road and Findorff Construction Co. A bicycle and pedestrian path through the campus/downtown of Madison is an ideal use for these under-used right-of-ways.
The bicycle artery would cross Park Street and Murray Street by bridges. These streets have abutments adjacent to their existing rail bridges that are designed to support additional spans. The only significant at-grade crossings would be at West Washington and Northshore Drive.Some accommodation for a path crossing at Northshore Drive should be incorporated into the redevelopment of the Findorff property. A direct crossing of Northshore at the rail corridor would be one possibility, another would be a connection to a path along the north side of Northshore Drive and connection to the Monona Bay path at Bedford and Brittingham (see map below) The West Washington crossing could made in a manner similar to that of the Southwest Commuter Path crossing at Midvale and Odanah Roads, where a combination of street marking and a center island have been installed.  It is imperative that bike facilities be improved in this part of the city. The current bike route through this area is on streets and crosses one of the worst intersections in Madison at Bedford and W. Washington. 
Click Anywhere on the Red Path to see Views of the Route as it Currently Exists.
History and Status of the Path proposal.
2000 -- This initiative was started in early 2000 and the concept has received endorsements in writing by the U.W.-Madison Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee, by the U.W.-Madison Transportation Services Committee, by Madison City alders, County Board members and by many other organizations and individuals. In early 2000, a brief presentation was given to the City of Madison Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission and that Commission has expressed strong support for the proposal. A more complete proposal was presented to the City in late July 2000.  Since that time, additional details have been added to the proposal and there have been meetings with city and county staff.
2001 -- Meetings were held with downtown and near east- and west- side City alders and the path received universal endorsement.  Meetings were held with developers for the Findorff properties and state rail officials were contacted to see if  right-of-way issues could be resolved.  In a December 2001 Isthmus article, Madison Mayor Susan Bauman committed to working to develop "the missing link trail".
2002 -- In April of 2002 the city of Madison applied for Transportation Enhancement Funds to design and construct the path from Camp Randall to Monona Bay.  That grant application will be reviewed by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the Wisc. Dept. of Transportation over the spring and summer of 2002.  A decision on that application will be made in late summer or fall of 2002. If all goes well construction could start in 2004.   At the annual City bicycle/pedestrian public hearing on April 23rd the "Missing Link" path was supported by speakers and written submission.  Madison TV Channel 3 aired an interview with John Coleman speaking for the path at the public hearing.   The Madison paper The Capital Times published an article on April 25th about the City's and citizens support for the " Missing Link".  It is encouraging that the City is applying for funds for the path but the path is far from certain.  The City, State and University still need to hear from the public that this is a priority. Contact the officials below to express your support for the project.
The popularity of the SouthWest Path continues to grow and there is even talk of the need to widen the path to accommodate the pedestrian and bicycle traffic. With completion of  the Nob Hill section of the John Nolen Path (Lake Monona Path) in the fall of 2002  the "Missing Link" will be the only gap in an 18 mile recreational loop.  This loop through  the Nine Springs E-Way and central Madison would provide excellent off-street recreational biking.
October 2002 FUNDED -- On October 9th, 2002 Federal funding for the "Missing Link" passed the final hurdle and Wisconsin's governor signed the final approval of 1.4 million federal dollars for this 1.8 million dollar project.  The remaining 20% of the funds will need to be provided from local sources as a "match" for the federal funds.  The release of the federal Statewide Multi-modal Improvement Program (SMIP) funds for the "Missing Link" was covered in news articles in the Wisconsin State Journal and the Daily Reporter . For more information on the details of the federal funding and local match contact Madison City Engineering's Arthur Ross at 266-6225 AROSS@ci.madison.wi.us .
Construction of the Nob Hill connection between the John Nolen Path and the Capital City Trail began Oct. 14th. Which leaves only construction of the "Missing Link" to close the 18 mile loop through  the Nine Springs E-Way and central Madison.
February 2004 Preliminary Plans out and available for review.  February 26th a public meeting was held for review of preliminary plans.  The materials from that meeting are available here, below. Please comment to "Matthew Yentz" <Matthew.Yentz@Strand.com> and "Anthony Fernandez" <afernandez@ci.madison.wi.us> before the end of March.
--Public Information Meeting Handout  (pdf format)
--Project Schedule
--Maps of Path, from west to east:
    Randall to Charter.
    Mills to Murray.
    Murray to West Washington.
    Main St. to North Shore Drive.
--Cross-sections of the path at various locations:
    Randall to Charter.
    Charter to Brooks.
    Brooks to Park.
    Park to Murray.
    Murray to Doty.
    Doty to North Shore Drive.
December 2004 Construction to Begin Spring of 2005.  During the winter contracting will be completed and construction is expected to begin in June, 2005.  If all goes well construction should be completed by October 15 of 2005. October sounds like the time for a fall bike party!
    Based on comments received last spring, the city redesigned the western portion of the path to be approximately a foot wider than originally proposed. The minimum width will be 11 feet, with most of the path being 12 feet wide. In addition, there will be a gutter or paved shoulder along most of the path. It looks like there will be no path access point at Park Street but the current construction will not preclude that as an option to be added in later years. The path will follow the route as shown in the maps below. In the section approaching Northshore Drive the path will be on the northeast side of the rail tracks, where the warehouses were torn down last summer. The maps available under the February 2004 update (above) are the most detailed and accurate.
October 2005 Construction  near complete at east and west end but delay in final Path completion.  Click here for a few photos of the construction as of October 19th.  The photos were taken from the east end (starting at Northshore Drive) to the west end (ending near Randall).  The west and east ends of the path have been paved (Phases A and B, see below). Phases A and B will be opened this fall, hopefully by mid-November. Phases C and D are still up in the air. Murray Street is still a big hole in the ground where U.W. is working on utilities. If you have any pull with U.W. see if you can get them to speed it up a bit. But the big hold-up is at Brooks Street (Phase D) where the retaining wall has to be redesigned and installed. According to City staff there's no-way it will get done before spring. There is hope that the east end can be completed to the Murray Street underpass, so contact City Engineering if you'd particularly like to see that completed this fall.
    At this point things are a little disappointing since I'll  we'll have continue to use snow, I mean, bike lanes through the winter but the current mid-May completion date will be a great time for a path opening celebration. If the paving just makes it to the Murray Street underpass this fall at least I'll , I mean, we'll have access to the Khol Center and the good bike lanes on Dayton Street.
July 2006 Construction will be complete by August 18th with official opening soon after. There still needs to be some work done on the section between Park and Mills Streets but it's nearing completion. After that it's just some minor details like signage and striping and by the way the deep curb cut at West Main St. is supposed to be smoothed out. Unfortunately the contractor seemed to think folks would be driving SUVs and wouldn't mind a little jolt as they crossed the street.

If you'd like to suggest a name for the new path go here  and send me your suggestion or vote for the names that have been previously suggested. I will pass the suggested names on to city staff and work to get the most popular name assigned to the path. At this point, according to the City, the default name if you don't vote is "The Northeast Trending Extension of the Southwest Multimodal Pedestrian/Bicycle Facility".  Last I heard, the City had agreed to name the new path the "Greenbush Link" or the "Greenbush Grade" as a segment of the Southwest Path. Exactly how that will appear on the signs is still up in the air. I just hope that the segment name is large enough that you don't need binoculars to read it.
Go to top of page

Project Phases (Section Update: the full path is being constructed in 2005. However the maps are still correct.)
There has been discussion with the University and City about possible phasing the construction of the path. Whether or not the project will be built in phases or all at once remains to be seen.  In any case, there are 4 logical subdivisions to the proposed path.  The 4 sections of path differ in current use, ownership, number of street crossings, and short term goals.  Click on the map or links below to see more information on the individual phases.
Phase A - Randall St. to Mills St.
Phase B - West Washington to Northshore Drive
Phase C - Murray St. to West Washington
Phase D - Mills St. to Murray St.

Things you can do to help make this path a reality: (Don't worry about this section. The path will be a reality in 2005, thanks to all those that did raise the issue at meetings and did contact city/state staff and officials)
-Raise this issue at public hearings and meetings whenever transportation is discussed.
-Distribute flyers at meetings & public events.  For copies contact me (see below) or download and print the linked flyer (can be opened with most word-processors) and map (print with any graphics program).

Contact the people who can make this happen.  Ask them to:
 - preserve the right-of-way by retaining public ownership and control.
 - prevent and reverse conflicting use or allocation of the public right-of-way.
 - begin the planning process for development of the path.
 - begin identifying funding sources for path construction.

The people to contact are:
At the Regional and State Level
William Schaefer
Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
Tom Huber
Wisc. Dept. of Transportation
Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator
At U.W.-Madison
U.W. Transportation Services
Lance Lunsway, Director
124 WARF Bldg.
610 Walnut St. 53705
265-3200  llunsway@fpm.wisc.edu
U.W. Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee
c/o Renee Callaway
142 WARF Bldg.
610 Walnut St. 53705
At the City of Madison
Arthur Ross
Traffic Engineering Division 
215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
PO Box 2986 
Madison, WI 53701-2986
Pedestrian/ Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission 
Rob Kennedy, Chair
215 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Room 100
Madison, WI53701
David Dryer
Traffic Engineering Division 
215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
PO Box 2986 
Madison, WI 53701-2986
Mark Olinger
City Planning Unit
215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Madison, WI 53701
This initiative was begun by a time-starved bicycle commuter. If it is to be successful, the State, City and University staff and representatives need to hear from you.
A 15 minute to half hour introductory presentation on this proposal is available to interested community groups. Contact John at colemanjj at yahoo. com  for more information.
Please share, and/or post this information.  For copies of a flyer that can be distributed at community and local government meeting, contact colemanjj at yahoo. com .
For information about the inclusion of the "Missing Link" proposal in the Metropolitan Planning Organization Bike Plan click here.

To be kept updated, click here on update and send me a blank e-mail with subject line of  "Update".  I'll put you on my bike path e-mailing list.

To volunteer time toward this effort, click here on volunteer and send me a blank e-mail with a subject line of "Volunteer".
Thank you for your interest and support.
To link to the Bicycle Community Page click