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Plans to Connect the KRM Bike Trail Through Caledonia Are on Hold

Land acquisition and whether or not the project is even viable are the issues.

Plans to complete a portion of the Milwaukee-Racine-Kenosha bike trail in Caledonia are on hold, local officials said. 

Land acquisition issues and concerns about the viability of the project have kept county officials from advancing on plans to extend the trail between Six and Seven Mile roads, said David Prott, director of public works for Racine County.

County Board Supervisor Ken Hall said the project stalled after plans to put a bridge over railroad tracks in the area fell apart because of expansion at the WE Energies power plant in Oak Creek. When the tracks were widened, power lines were moved and part of Seven Mile Road was closed

"The bike bridge plan became impractical," he said.

Since then, county officials have explored buying land in the area. But homeowners haven’t seemed interested, said Michael Hayek, village engineer in Caledonia. 

Hayek sent letters to the six affected homeowners asking them to consider selling a 40-foot strip at the back of their properties, near the railroad tracks.

"We only had one person respond," he said, "And the answer was 'no.'"

Village officials considered seizing the land. But, Hayek said, two board members were against using imminent domain to complete the bike path; those trustees were not available for comment.

Hayek said he is in favor of exploring imminent domain -- a path Hall also supported looking into. But if trustees won’t consider condemning the land and homeowners won’t sell, then Hayek said, “it’s done.”

Hall had the same fear, especially since some officials have considered returning the more than $400,000 in grant money Racine County received to build the bike bridge and complete the path. Total costs for the bridge project were estimated at $1.7 million.

"I had hoped county officials might consider some other use for the grant money," he added. "Maybe planners could seek an easement on the east side of the railroad tracks."

Hall, a bicyclist, also thought it might be worthwhile to explore re-opening a portion of Seven Mile Road, west of Michna Road, which was closed because of the power plant expansion and led to the bike bridge plan.

If that stretch of road were accessible, officials could extend the bike path along Michna Road, a less-traveled alternative to busy Highway 32 – the only other connector route for bicyclist trying to bridge the trail gap between Six and Seven Mile roads.

Planners could consider paving part of the shoulder along Highway 32 and painting a white line to create a bike path, suggested Art and Cathy Hicks, who live in Mount Pleasant. Cathy is the president of the Kenosha Racine Bike Club.

It’s not ideal, Cathy admitted, but there would at least be a separation between riders and auto traffic.

"It would be a safer,” said Cathy.

Whatever happens, Art Hicks said officials should consider finishing the path – and not just for bicyclists, but also for runners, joggers and families, who walk the trail, sometimes even with strollers.

Hall agreed, especially since the Caledonia gap is the only missing link in a path that otherwise connects from Chicago to Milwaukee

“The original vision of a continuous trail is a good one, and we shouldn’t give up on it,” he said. "I would like to keep the pressure on to find a solution.”

Greta Mueller April 28, 2011 at 02:25 PM
One other comment - am I mistaken or is this a grant the County received? If so, the Village would have no say in any condemnation proceedings anyway - that decision would be made by the County.
Penny Griffiths April 28, 2011 at 03:37 PM
The bike trail used to start on 7 Mile Road. What happened to that stretch of the path? If it had to be sacrificed for the expansion of WE Energies perhaps they should be approached to replace what had to be sacrificed for them. Does Michna Road not go through to 7 Mile Road? People can also access the Milwaukee county leg of the bike trail from County Line Road. A short ride down 7 Mile Road to Foley Road and North to County Line . These roads are not heavily traveled and are pretty easy to navigate. Why would eminent domain need to be used when the path already exists?"
Thin Blue Line April 28, 2011 at 08:05 PM
The path that used to be the bike path was taken over by WE Energies, the original owners of the property. It is used by WE Energies and Union Pacific Railroad as part of the yard for the power plant extends south of 7 Mile Rd parallel to the former bike path. When you get the former crossing there are at least 5 tracks to go across, but not everyone sees that the crossing is closed. http://caledonia.patch.com/articles/train-crashes-into-suv-after-driver-gets-stuck-on-the-tracks If you are lucky enough to get to the crossing when there are no trains, some people walk across the tracks to the bike path connecting them north, other wise they have to walk around the up to 4 trains sitting in the yard. *** NOT RECOMMENDED** It is trespassing to walk across the tracks and possibly a fatal mistake. The new path would be on the west side from 6 to 7 Mile however, none of the landowners there want to sell or give up the land. Also the land there is lower (flooding issues) and would require the removal of some trees.
Patrick Flynn April 29, 2011 at 01:45 PM
Caledonia, Please find a way to get this connected.
Duane Michalski May 01, 2011 at 11:11 PM
When Hwy 32 is expanded due to the I-794 project, there is plans for bikes in the project.

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