Bug Line Trail will reopen in October
Phase one of trail reconstruction nearly finished
Village of Merton — A portion of the Bug Line Recreational Trail that extends from Main Street in the Village of Merton east to Highway 164 that has been closed since Aug. 12 is expected to reopen in mid-October, according to Waukesha County officials.
Contractors are expected to begin laying asphalt this week on the approximately 4-mile section of the trail that represents the first phase of the $1.2 million project to rebuild, widen and resurface the 14-mile trail that extends from Menomonee Falls west to North Lake.
Federal funds are paying for half the project costs and the State of Wisconsin and Waukesha County are sharing the remaining 50 percent of the costs, according to Dale Shaver, Director of Waukesha County Parks and Land Use.
The existing dirt and gravel trail is an abandoned railway right of way. The railroad spur line was constructed in 1890 and used for trains carrying passenger and freight until 1978.
The project includes building a new foundation, or road base, for the trail that presently varies in width from eight to 10 feet. The trail will be expanded to 10 feet, which includes a 2-foot-wide gravel path that will be adjacent to an 8-foot section of asphalt.
Shaver said the purpose of the improvements is to enhance the recreational experience for all of the users of the trail including hikers, bikers and snowmobilers. The trail is also being improved to make it more accessible to handicapped users, Shavers added.
The 2-foot-wide gravel path is intended to help both joggers and snowmobile operators.
"Some runners prefer to run on pavement, while others prefer a softer surface. The gravel path provides those runners who prefer a softer surface with an alternative to the asphalt pavement," Shaver explained.
In addition, the gravel path provides snowmobilers with a wider area to navigate along the trail without intruding on wetland and wooded areas.
"There are some sections of the existing trail that are barely 8-feet-wide and are very close to trees and wetland areas. The gravel path will provide a buffer that will help snowmobilers to avoid wetland and wooded areas," he explained.
However, existing restrictions on operating snowmobiles near the Village of Merton and some portions of the Village of Sussex will continue, Shaver explained.
In addition, snowmobiling on sections of the trail with less than six inches of snow will also be prohibited, he added.
Shaver said Lake Country area snowmobile clubs have assisted in defining and regulating snowmobile routes along the trail.
In the second phase of the project, the trail will be rebuilt, widened and resurfaced along with segments extending west from Menomonee Falls to the Village of Sussex and west from the Village of Merton to North Lake. The second phase of the project is expected to begin in the spring of 2014.
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