Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Gold Star Memorial Trail

Back in April I had some fun imagining a new bike route that would connect the Wild Goose State Trail, the Eisenbahn State Trail and the Ozaukee Interurban Trail. It was all very speculative and wasn’t meant to reflect any existing projects or proposals. At that time, I didn’t know about an initiative in Dodge County that actually could come to fruition in the not-too-distant future.

The Gold Star Memorial Trail is still just a dream, but it’s one with a dedicated group of people already working toward it, and it appears to have support within Dodge County government. Unlike my idea, it would not be a rails-with-trails project, but instead would run within highway corridors like the Old Plank Road Trail, which parallels State Highway 23 in Sheboygan County. The Gold Star Memorial Trail—envisioned as a 15-mile ribbon of asphalt—would connect Beaver Dam, Horicon and Mayville, intersecting with the Wild Goose State Trail just north of Minnesota Junction. That intersection is just 5 miles from downtown Juneau, through which the Wild Goose passes. So, this new piece of the trail network would link roughly one third of Dodge County’s population.

And it could become part of an eventual link between the Wild Goose and the Eisenbahn. From its eastern terminus in Mayville, the Gold Star Memorial Trail would be just 21 miles west of the Eisenbahn. But while I could recommend a couple of very pleasant on-road connections, there isn’t an obvious corridor if you want to build an off-road alternative. The best choice might be a bike trail parallel to State Highway 28, connecting Mayville first to Theresa and then to the Eisenbahn at Kewaskum. Such a route would be a little short on scenery, but it would be better than nothing.

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