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Dane County to Begin Lower Yahara River Corridor Planning Study

For more information contact:

Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
Kevin Connors, Director of Land and Water Resources (608) 224-3730

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 8/11/2008

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announced today the county has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to hire a consultant to study the feasibility of constructing a new recreational trail from Lake Farm County Park to McDaniel Park in the Village of McFarland. The study is funded by the 2008 County budget. Firms interested in submitting proposals for the $66,500 RFP have until September 3rd to do so.

In addition to exploring additional recreational opportunities, the study will also analyze flows through an existing railroad trestle on the Yahara River near Lake Farm County Park to determine if widening the existing structure may help to improve water flow and help minimize the impacts of flooding during high water events upriver. A wider railroad bridge may also improve the ability of boats to move between the two bodies of water.

“This is something important to look at because there are a lot of factors that lead to high water,” County Executive Falk said. “Depending on what this review finds, we’ll have to work with a lot of partners, including the state and the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, to determine the best course of action in moving forward.”

The railroad corridor is currently owned by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and leased by Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Company.

The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department has been working with these agencies and the City of Madison, Village of McFarland, City of Monona and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources since February to identify preliminary planning considerations that will be considered in the study. Currently the corridor is an active railway with potential for upgrade to commuter use in the future. A primary focus of the study will be to investigate how to improve safety of the corridor for the railroad and for the proposed trail.

“We are excited to see this planning effort move forward that may reveal steps that can be taken to reduce flooding over the long term on Belle Isle and Lake Monona,” said Supervisor Robin Schmidt.

The Yahara Lakes Advisory Group also has recommended studying the effects of widening the existing railroad trestle to improve water flow on the Yahara River. In addition, students from the University of Wisconsin Madison Engineering Department recently completed a flow analysis of the river at the railroad trestle that suggests a widened opening could lower upstream water levels during flood events.

“The trestle may be key to addressing flooding and I'm interested in providing boaters, anglers, joggers and bikers more opportunities. This study will provide us answers so we can determine the best approaches on addressing these needs," said Supervisor Patrick Miles.

“This seems like it could be a very common sense solution to help us better manage water levels and reduce flooding on the Yahara chain of lakes,” said Supervisor Brett Hulsey, Chair of the Lakes and Watershed Commission.

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