SOMERS — “That’s a postcard,” Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser said late Monday afternoon.
He was gazing north, taking in the picturesque scenery of the newly constructed wooden bridge/boardwalk winding over the Pike River, beneath a leafy tree canopy and disappearing into the forest.
This is the new multi-use path linking Petrifying Springs Park with Highway KR and a soon-to-be built trail in Mount Pleasant. It opened Monday night to users.
The 1.5-mile, 12-foot wide trail begins at Highway A, just east of Green Bay Road, and continues northwesterly on the boardwalk before transitioning to an asphalt surface running parallel along the east side of Green Bay Road, to the south side of Highway KR, then west alongside KR to 56th Avenue.
On hand for the trail opening was retired and immediate past Kenosha County Highway Commissioner Gary Sipsma, who put in place the concept and layout, including the bridge/boardwalk, for the new trail.
“It all worked out, and it’s spectacular,” Sipsma said. “It really opens up a lot of additional areas for off road use, particularly as Foxconn and the other developments occur and traffic gets more congested. It’s going to be important that the paths be off road to avoid conflicts between cyclists, runners and motorists.”
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A push-button control at the intersection of Green Bay Road and KR activates a walk signal for pedestrians, cyclists and other users to safely cross the busy road.
“This new trail allows people on foot or on two wheels to access Petrifying Springs Park from neighborhoods in Somers, and from beyond in Racine County,” Kreuser said. “What’s more, we were able to build it with minimal local tax dollars, thanks to grants from the federal government.”
The bulk of the project’s design and construction costs were funded by $873,251 in Congestion Mitigation for Air Quality grants from the Federal Highway Administration.
It will link to Mount Pleasant’s Pike River Pathway, possibly later this year. The Racine County path now follows the river corridor from just south of Highway 11 to Old Spring Street.
The KR trail also ties into Kenosha County’s existing system, allowing users to travel from the lakefront to Petrifying Springs, largely on off-road paths.
After riding the new trail with others at the inaugural event, Kenosha County Bike Ambassadors Brian and Carol Boehm gave it two thumbs up.
“I think it’s a great beginning for future paths heading out west,” Brian said. “The bridge is really cool.”
Said Carol: “It’s truly a multi-use path. It’s pretty whether you’re walking, riding your bike, walking your dog. I was thinking about it being a connector between two places. I wasn’t expecting it to be showcase nature and be able to see so much.”
Coming off the bridge/boardwalk after completing the 3-mile roundtrip, biker Richard Fratrick also gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up.
“Very impressive,” Fratrick said. “Beautiful scenery, a lot of greenery. They had to taper all those boards to make the turns. That’s a lot of cutting. They got it figured out for all the flooding here, too.”
Said Kreuser after joining a group on bicycles for the roundtrip, “I think going down the trail it turned out better than we planned it.”
“We maximized the beauty of the woods with a winding wooden trail that leads to a very save trail to traverse all the way to KR,” Kreuser added. “We had a great team that put this together, from the County Board, to the people who built it. However, the true test is the public’s reaction.”
More information about Kenosha County’s bike trail system is available online at www.kenoshacounty.org/611/County-Bike-Trails.