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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cannonball path - Fitchburg, Tues., Aug.28

 Dunn’s Marsh e-Notice, 8/28/12

This Tuesday, August 28, the Fitchburg Finance Committee and the Fitchburg City Council will be considering a resolution about the Cannonball Bike Path that crosses Seminole Highway just south of the Arboretum and Belmar Hills.

We encourage people to attend the Finance Committee meeting at 6:30 and the Fitchburg Council Meeting at 7:30 to give their opinions about the path.  Much more information is given below.  The meeting is at the Fitchburg City Hall, on Lacy Road, just east of Fish Hatchery Road.

Full packets for all meetings can be found at <> with the Council packet at <>  The Cannonball information starts on page 367 of that pdf file.

The fifth “article” below is about the mountain bike park proposed for county land south of Dunn’s Marsh between Seminole Highway and the Badger State Trail.

1 - Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association Position

The Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association supports the Fitchburg staff recommendations for the path and sent e-mails earlier in the month to Fitchburg committees and alders to convey this information, as follows:

   1. A 10-foot wide asphalt path for the entire length of the corridor

    2. Way-finding signs along the corridor, especially at the connection to all the paths and trails located just south of Lovell Lane (These would include the Badger State Trail, the Southwest Commuter Trail, the Capitol City Trail, and the Military Ridge Trail).

    3. A neighborhood connection path to Belmar in the Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood.  
We assume this would be from the Apache Pond area, although in the past our Association has also talked about and wished for an off-road path on the west side of Seminole Highway that would continue as a boardwalk from the Cannonball south to the Capitol City Trail.

    4. A 10-foot wide pedestrian island on Seminole Highway and associated roadway improvements to accommodate the island.
   In talks with WisDOT on 7/23/12 we were assured that there would also be striping on the road at both the Cannonball and Capitol City Trail crossings, and want to speak up for that to you as well.
In addition, we suggested having caution lights for Seminole Highway motorists at these crossings.  We feel this is prudent because of the additional traffic that will flood Seminole during the Verona Road construction process.  Estimates are that traffic will increase by 350-450 cars during the peak hours.  Of course there will also be an increase during non-peak hours also although that number hasn’t been quantified by WisDOT.
There was some discussion about whether there would be an actual raised island at the Cannonball crossing.  We highly recommend that and further suggest that it be wide enough to hold a family of bicyclists side by side since we expect that families will use this path.
We discussed the lighting issue, and at this time we favor an unlighted path, especially past the Arboretum and Dunn’s Marsh.  Since much of the area south of the Arboretum and Dunn’s Marsh is quite open, we feel that sky light will provide adequate lighting for those that happen to use the path at night.

2 - Fitchburg Responses to the Cannonball Resolution

The Fitchburg Transportation and Transit Commission (TTC) supported the pedestrian island at the Seminole Highway crossing, but the Board of Public Works did not.  Alder Steve Arnold, who is on the TTC, supports having the safety island.  In the next section of this e-mail, I’ve included his remarks which were sent to bicycle list-serves today (Aug. 27).  They give a lot of background and reasons for supporting the island.

Fitchburg Alder Dorothy Krause, from our neighborhood, discussed the island issue with Fitchburg Transportation Engineer Ahnaray Bizjak today (August 27) , and if a compromise is necessary, Dorothy may suggest an amendment  supporting pedestrian/biker activated caution lights at the Cannonball crossing and also at the Capital City Trail crossing just south of the Cannonball.  Her comments to the Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Council are also printed below

At this time it is not known how Alder Carol Poole is thinking.  She, as well as Dorothy Krause, also represents the Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood.  You can let all the Fitchburg alders know your opinion.  Find their addresses at <>

3 - Alder Steve Arnold’s Communication to the Bikies’ List-Serve

At meetings beginning at 6:30 the Fitchburg Finance Committee, and at 7:30 on Tuesday, August 28, the Fitchburg Common Council, will consider a resolution to approve the staff design of Fitchburg's portion of the Cannonball Path.

Staff has proposed, and the Transportation and Transit Commission has recommended, widening of Seminole Highway where the Path crosses, and a ten-foot wide safety island, so Path uses may cross Seminole Hwy one lane at a time.  This will be particularly important when Verona Road construction starts next year, as considerable traffic will use Seminole Hwy to avoid the construction.

Fitchburg's Board of Public Works has amended the design to remove the safety island, citing cost and "safety" concerns.  (One member said safety islands make him feel less safe, I presume while driving.)

I will argue for the safety island, as recommended by staff.  The widening to accommodate the island will have a traffic calming effect, which staff hopes to use to argue for a lower speed limit (e.g., 30 MPH instead of the current 40 MPH) from the Madison limits through the intersections of the Cannonball Path, Dawley Drive, and the Cap City Trail.  The lower speed limit will improve safety not only for Cannonball users, but also for Cap City Trail users and cyclists on Seminole Hwy.

The Dunns Marsh neighborhood Association supports the safety island.

The funding for the staff-proposed safety island has already been approved by the Common Council in the capital improvement program. Saving the money for the safety island is not a good tradeoff for the safety of trail users.  Citizens speaking at Council members can have a powerful effect on the Council members.  If you have an opinion on this matter, please consider registering to speak in support.  You can also let your Alders know your opinion directly by e-mail.  Our addresses are at <> .

Background:  The Path will follow the old Union Pacific right-of-way from the Military Ridge Trail at McKee Road northwest to the "bicycle interchange with the Capital City Trail, Southwest Path, and Badger State Trail, along the Arboretum and Arbor Hills neighborhood, past Leopold School, and finally cross the Beltline on its own overpass between Kayser Ford and Culvers.  It will be an awesome commuter route from southwest Dane County to the Fish Hatchery Road and Park Street Corridors.  The Beltline overpass and Fitchburg portions of the trail will be built next year.  Snow will be removed for winter commuting. There is a map at <> .

(Lighting:  For those of you interested in whether the Path will be lighted, c.f. Madison's Southwest Commuter Path, the Madison portion of the Cannonball will be lighted.  The Fitchburg portion will *not* be lighted initially, but underground work for future lighting of the Fitchburg portion has been recommended as a bid option, in case favorable bids allow it to fit into the project budget.)

4 - Alder Dorothy Krause’s Communication to the Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Council

I just talked to Ahna [Bizjak, Fitchburg Transportation Project Engineer] about possibilities. The issue is, of course, money, for the most part, but there is a bit more. The cost for the island at Cannonball and Seminole is $74,000, and doesn't do anything for the Cap City crossing. If we put people-activated yellow flashing yield lights, the cost for a crossing is $10,000... so if we put them at Cannonball AND at Cap City, the total cost would be $20,000 and we'd have equal protection for both crossings. So that would be, what, 30% of the cost. When Finance does a compare and contrast, I'd bet that they would recommend lights.

Two of Ahna's points, beyond the cost, is that we don't want to give such focus to one crossing that the other gets downplayed. People already don't respect the need to stop at Cap City when there are bikes waiting. She also pointed out that with the island, it makes the road at least ten feet wider, and people [bicyclists] that don't want to stop have that much more distance to gauge traffic. Not a problem when traffic is light or from one direction only, but a huge risk if there is traffic both ways that they need to judge. There is also some traffic calming effect to an island, but again, I'm coming around to whether putting that much focus on one crossing makes the other more of a concern.

So something needs to be at Seminole and Cannonball certainly, but I'd suggest an amendment for ped/bike activated lights for both crossings in place of the island. Then if people don't want to use the lights, they have that option... but they are there to help drivers know to stop for bikes. And, yes, people should come and present their thoughts to either or both groups.

5 - About the Proposed Mountain Bike Park

About 25 people learned a lot more about the mountain bike park proposed by CORP (Capital Off-Road Pathfinders) for the Dane County parkland just west of Dawley Park and south of Dunn’s Marsh above the Capital City Trail.  The information session on August 23 was put on by the Dane County Parks Department and the City of Fitchburg.

Here are some of the points that were made:
  • The trails would be 3 feet wide with a wheel track about a foot wide – much like a deer trail or hiking trail, NOT like a 20-foot wide cross-country ski trail.
  • Trails are one-way only although hikers might choose to go the opposite way to be more aware of approaching bikers.
  • Trails would be laid out by a professional mountain bike trail designer who would be working for “sustainable trail design” and erosion-free trails.  Trails would be placed mostly along the contours of the land rather than up/down hill.  Currently because of the invasive Siberian honeysuckle shrubs, erosion is occurring since they shade out other vegetation including grass.
  • The map of trails you may have looked at earlier are only conceptual.  Actual locations have not been decided.
  • “Technical trail features” such as jumps would not be built.  This park would be strictly for beginners who want to learn how to ride on the ground rather than on paved or gravel paths.  It would be very different from the Quarry Ridge Mountain Bike Park which is located further down the Military Ridge Trail, the Badger Ridge trails, or from Cam Rock Park.
  • It would serve young people and families wanting to get a feel for off-road mountain biking.
  • Bicyclists age 16 and over would have to pay for a permit to ride there - $5 per day or $16 per year.  Seniors age 65 or older would pay $12 for an annual pass.  Riders below age 16 and hikers of any age could use the paths for free.
  • A lot of invasive species, mainly Siberian honeysuckle and buckthorn would have to be removed from the park even before location of the paths could be decided.  This work would be done by CORP volunteers.
  • CORP volunteers would also help maintain and monitor the path.
  • Dane County Parks will consider working with the City of Fitchburg and neighboring landowners in providing a 4-foot high woven wire fence (not cyclone fence) between County and private lands on the southern border (Pine Ridge neighborhood).  Dane County would pay for the fence.
  • Only a few entrances would lead into the park.
  • The reason for locating a mountain bike park here would be to make beginner mountain biking easily accessible by bicycle from the nearby Capital City Trail, Cannonball Trail, and the Southwest Commuter Path/Badger State Trail.
  • Park hours would be 5 a.m.-10 p.m. - or basically dawn to dusk.

Approximately 25 people attended this information session.   Attendees included several members of CORP, other mountain bikers, Pine Ridge Neighborhood Association President Kurt Miller and  a number of homeowners from the Pine Ridge Neighborhood, Dream Bikes Proprietor Erik Lee, Fitchburg Transportation Project Engineer Ahnaray Bizjak, Jerry Sieling who is a member of the Fitchburg Transportation and Transit Commission, this reporter from the Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association, and other interested people.

Ahnaray Bizjak gave a report on the proposed bicycle hub building that will go into Dawley Park west of Seminole Highway.  It will include educational information, toilets with movement-sensitive lights, a water fountain and water bottle filling faucet, benches, places to park bikes including some covered parking, and a partially sheltered deck looking down to Dunn’s Marsh.

Fitchburg has a $100,000 grant from Dane County for the bicycle hub.

-----  This e-mail Notice is from the Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association.  Direct questions about it to Mary Mullen, Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association Communications, 608.298.0843.  ---


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