By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Work has begun on the Wildwood-McMillan Connector Trail, a 2.5-mile, multiuse trail that partially follows an old railroad line and will connect Wildwood Park & Zoo to McMillan Street.
Construction was originally slated for 2012 but was later pushed to 2015 and then 2017. The project is being completed through a combination of federal, state, and city funding and will add to an existing matrix of bicycle/walking trails within the city.
The Wildwood-McMillan Connector trail begins at Wildwood Park & Zoo, progresses north to Steve J. Miller Park, and continues north to McMillan Street, passing near Grant Elementary School, Marshfield Clinic, and Marshfield Medical Center.
“This project began (the week of Sept. 11) at the intersection of 14th and Oak, and they’re progressing northwards,” Marshfield City Engineer Tom Turchi said. “Their goal is to get the majority of the work done up to Seventh Street this year before it snows.
“They only encountered a very small amount of contamination at this point, and that was hauled to the landfill already.”
The Wildwood-McMillan Connector Trail is scheduled to be completed in October 2018.
Marshfield’s trail system
Work on Marshfield trails began in 1990, when the city’s Comprehensive Plan identified trails that could be placed in greenways. Then the 1994 Comprehensive Plan update specified a need for multipurpose trails but did not have routes clearly defined.
The 2007 Comprehensive Plan finally established bicycle routes and a trail plan for the city.
“At that time there was an overall plan put together to take a look at the city as a whole,” said Turchi. “There was always talk about trails and planning for trails before that point.
“In 2017, which is the Comprehensive Plan we are finishing up now, has revisions to the plan in 2007 as well as takes a look at what new corridors or what new locations would benefit the city.”
Construction on the trails first began in the late 1990s in Griese Park.
“(The Steve J. Miller Recreation Area) had trails installed in 1999. Weber Park was designed and constructed in 2004. … Then the Mill Creek Business Park, they built a trail system in there with the development of that business park, and that was about 2005. And then Galvin Avenue from Fourth Street to Becker Road, we built that off-road trail in 2005,” Turchi explained.
Wildwood Station Trail was added a year later, running from the intersection of Oak Avenue and Adler Road to Lincoln Avenue, as well as the Galvin Avenue on-road trail extending from Becker Road to McMillan Street.
“On Adler Road we started at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and went to the west toward Sycamore with an ultimate goal of getting to Weber Park so that there is a loop at Weber Park,” Turchi recalled. “The first portion was constructed in 2008. And then a UW Arboretum connector trail, which starts at Lincoln Avenue at just about 11th Street and then connects into the UW Arboretum trails, that was also constructed in 2008. Then we did a Lincoln Avenue on-road trail in 2009.”
In 2011 the Yellowstone Drive trail was added, and five years later a connector trail was constructed to link the city’s trails with the Hewitt trail.
With the help of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Veterans Parkway trails were added during construction of the parkway as an enhancement. The Hamus Nature Preserve was privately constructed to include a 1-mile asphalt trail as well as natural surface trails.
Although not originally intended to be a part of the trail system, the Greenway Trail — located on the west side of Pecan Parkway — is open to bicycles, pedestrians, and in-line skating and was introduced in place of a proposed curb and sidewalk.