Trail grant nears end, but impact carries on

SHEBOYGAN COUNTY IS REACHING the end of the line with the $25 million Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program grant it received in 2005.

But it’s a journey that has netted major improvements from one end of the county to the other and has helped ensure safer traveling for all of those who get from one place to another in Sheboygan County by means other than a motorized vehicle.

Sheboygan County was one of four communities across the nation selected for the program when it was created by Congress. Sheboygan County was the smallest of the choices by population, with the other grants going to larger metropolitan areas – Marin County, Cal.; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; and Columbia, Mo.

In those communities, the opportunities to change people’s mode of transportation was easier than in a more spread-out, rural community like Sheboygan County.

But Sheboygan County rose to the challenge and more than met it.

Over the past decade, the NMTPP has funded projects in nearly every community in the county, from the city of Sheboygan down to a number of different townships.

All together, the grant funded more than 14 miles of sidewalk, nearly 60 miles of bicycle lanes and/or routes, more than 16 miles of multi-use pathways and more than 22 miles of paved shoulders for walkers and bicyclists along county roads.

Work on the final project is scheduled to get underway shortly – the Taylor Drive multi-use pathway in the city of Sheboygan. It will run from Crocker Avenue north to connect with the existing trail system – including the Old Plank Road Trail – at Taylor Park.

The effort to implement the grant money – which came to Sheboygan County largely through the efforts of former Congressman Tom Petri – were spearheaded by county officials who wisely involved a wide range of local citizenry right from the start.

That created a strong core of dedicated, caring and committed individuals who, with strong leadership and good direction, ensured that the grant dollars had the greatest impact not just in the largest communities but throughout the entire county.

There are new trails for people to walk, bike and ride on to work, to shop and to enjoy the many recreational opportunities that surround us here.

There are new sidewalks in villages and cities across the county that make it safer for our children to walk to and from school – keeping them safe while also providing the kind of exercise that will help ensure they grow up healthy and strong.

There are bicycle paths along rural county highways that allow people to get from their homes in the country to work, shop and visit in nearby communities.

All of that, and more, has helped people get out of their cars to get around the county.

Among the more prominent projects the grant has funded, either partially or fully, are the conversion of an abandoned rail line in the city of Sheboygan into the Shoreland 400 Rail Trail; sidewalks, wider shoulders and trails along streets from one end of the city of Plymouth to the other; major sidewalk improvements throughout the city of Sheboygan Falls; similar sidewalk projects in the village of Howards Grove; paved shoulders along Mueller Road in the town of Sheboygan; sidewalks and other improvements on South Main Street in Cedar Grove; and many more.

The impact of all this is being felt already and will carry down for future generations to come, adding greatly to what makes Sheboygan County a great place to live, work and play.

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