County non-motorized network progressing

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN – The county is already seeing impact from the projects funded by the $25 million federal Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program grant.

County Planning and Resources Director Aaron Brault updated the County Board Tuesday on the progress of the program, designed to get people out of their cars and into alternative means of transportation.

To that end, the county has seen a 23 percent increase in bicyclists and a 12 percent increase in pedestrians from 2007 to 2010, Brault told the supervisors.

The county has approved 36 projects with a total cost of $19.6 million, Brault said. The remainder of the grant funds will be used for contingencies, maintenance and future projects.

Seventeen of those projects have already been completed, including 13 involving infrastructure – sidewalks, trails, bicycle lanes and such.

Four more projects are underway this year, including two in the city of Plymouth, Brault said.

Several major projects remain unstarted and are in various stages of preparation.

One of those is 28 segments of trails, sidewalks and bicycle lanes in the city of Sheboygan Falls. Work on that should begin on that in 2013, Brault said.

Two major projects are pending in the city of Sheboygan, he continued.

One is the conversion of the abandoned north-south Union Pacific rail line to a multi-purpose trail and the other is the Taylor Drive trail.

The county is currently negotiating with the Union Pacific to purchase the rail right-ofway for that trail, while railroad crossings problems need to be resolved before the Taylor Drive project can begin, Brault said.

The county will purchase the Union Pacific right-of-way with the rails intact, according to Brault. The county will be able to sell off the rails for scrap and utilize the proceeds to establish a maintenance fund.

“We’re hoping to have all the original projects completed by 2014,” Brault reported.

The grant has also funded several non-infrastructure initiatives, Brault said, including Safe Routes to Schools, the annual Bike and Walk to Work Week, Walking School Bus, bicycle corrals at festivals and picnics, and the ReBike program that rehabilitates bicycles and makes them available to the public.

County Administrator Adam Payne announced that the interview process for a new administrator at Rocky Knoll in Plymouth has been completed.

“We have made an offer for the position and that has been accepted. The new administrator will be starting July 12,” Payne told the board.

Former administrator Michael Taubenheim resigned in March. Director of Nursing Jennifer Rohrbeck has been serving as interim administrator since then.

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