Peace trail bicycle path linking Janesville, Beloit moving along slowly

Gazette thumbsup2014Janesville Gazette Gina Duwe August 11, 2014 TOWN OF BELOIT–People are always asking Peace Trail organizers when the bike trail between Janesville and Beloit will be complete. “Things are moving and moving along slowly,” said Dean Paynter, president of the Rock Trail Coalition. “Slow incremental progress.” Nothing happens as fast as you’d like when dealing with multiple public and private entities, he said, but a bridge in Big Hill Park is set to be built this fall and two major easements should be in writing by year’s end. “There’s more enthusiasm,” he said. The Rock Trail Coalition has been working for years to create a mostly off-road trail connecting the two cities. Afton Road has bike lanes with paved shoulders between Janesville and Beloit. Here’s the status of the trail: — The paved portion of Peace Trail in Janesville ends on the southwest side at the Janesville Wastewater Plant on Tripp Road. — An off-road gravel path continues south and ends across from the Afton Pub and Park at the north side of Afton. — The trail will use Afton Road through Afton then turn east onto Bass Creek Road. — The trail will turn south and go off road near the end of Bass Creek Road, turning onto land owned by Hendricks Land Development. It will continue south, following Duggan Road on the edge of farm fields, then briefly running along Townline Road and across property owned by the town of Beloit. The trail will go off-road on the east side of Walters Road, following a utility easement. — The trail will enter the north end of Big Hill Park, where a trail bridge will be built this fall over Goose Creek. The trail will continue through the park, then out onto Afton Road near the Beloit city limits. The coalition has verbal agreements with Hendricks and the town of Beloit on the easements, but getting it in writing is the next step, which was a 2014 goal for the coalition. “I’ll be happy if we have that done,” Paynter said. “All of our trail building will be next year.” Paynter met with a contractor Friday to get an estimate of what it will cost to clear the path south of Afton after easements are approved. Rock County will be the owner of the trail, with the coalition helping to maintain it. The county planning and development committee last month granted a conditional-use permit for the trail. “The initial trail, when you talk about a trail, is basically a dirt path that will be put in,” Paynter said. “Probably Rock County will have to apply for grants to put crushed limestone on it and finish it off.” The city of Beloit has an $18,800 contract with Custom Manufacturing in Clinton to build and install the pedestrian bridge in the park, said Beth Jacobsen, assistant to the city manager. That part of the project is possible because the city of Beloit is matching two state Department of Natural Resources grants for a total of $286,320. The city match includes $16,000 that a Leadership Development Academy Team raised for the bridge. The city will improve the trail adjacent to the bridge after it is installed, Jacobsen said.