Phase two of Great Sauk State Trail opening tentatively planned for Oct. 26
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the official opening of phase two of the Great Sauk State Trail has been tentatively set for 2 p.m. Oct. 26.
Great Sauk State Trail Commission president Marty Krueger told commission members about the update, explaining the original plan was to have the ceremony on Oct. 9, exactly one year from the opening of the trail’s first phase. However, the August rains that caused flooding in parts of Sauk County have asphalt companies and the county highway department working overtime to repair roads and shoulders.
“There’s no way it could be completed as originally planned,” Krueger said. “We could not in good conscience have citizens ask why we are pulling crews off of reshouldering for a trail.”
Krueger said the two successful bidders for the trail’s asphalt project ultimately couldn’t meet the original deadline.
“The unsuccessful bidder said the only way they should be considered was if the completion date could be moved to November,” Krueger said.
Sauk County Highway Commissioner Pat Gavinski said his crews are currently placing the trail base and will be working to tie in intersections the first week of October. Paving is tentatively set to begin Oct. 15.
“We are still planning on being done for the Oct. 26 opening,” Gavinski said. “It’s going to be a tight schedule and there aren’t a lot of (bad) weather days in there. So as long as there is no more (bad) weather, we will be sitting good.”
Phase one of the trail begins at the site of the defunct rail bridge in Sauk City along the Wisconsin River, meanders through the village of Sauk City and into Prairie du Sac; continues along the river and out to the south entrance of the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant site, now the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area. Phase two picks up where phase one ends, taking the trail through the recreation area into Baraboo just shy of Devil’s Lake State Park.
Krueger said discussions about plans for the connection into Devil’s Lake are ongoing.
“We may or may not be able to move forward with a more generic language,” said Dana White Quam of the state DNR. “But for right now, we are holding off until we have it more defined.”
Krueger said the county continues to work with StriveON in developing parameters for the location-based mobile trail application. Members have been trained on use of the application as well as its configuration and testing has begun. Most all information from the history boards along the trail have been uploaded to the application and more content will be added as the trail develops.
“The possibilities with this app are countless,” Krueger said. “Because of that we won’t have it fully realized on Oct. 26. Our goal right now is to get something out there – especially when you get into Badger – and get out some basic history elements.”
Brian Simmert, senior planner for Sauk County, said he asked for a discussion on motorized bikes be placed on the agenda based on a question he was asked from a DNR representative. He also asked for trishaws or three-wheeled bikes and electric scooters to be included in the discussion.
“The question is whether E-bikes are expressly allowed or prohibited on the trail,” Simmert said. “My understanding is, unless they are expressly prohibited and posted on the trail, they are permitted.”
State statue defines an E-bike as a motorized bicycle, either two-or-three-wheeled, that has an ancillary electric motor to it.
“It still has pedals, but you also have the electric motor that will allow the user to go further, where they may not have the physical capability to do that or tackle hills,” Simmert said. “Do you feel it is appropriate to allow E-bikes on the trail, or do you prefer not to have them?”
He said a review of other state trails showed just about all allow E-bikes, with the exception of three.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” said commission member Jim Anderson. “I know they are fairly expensive so the average person isn’t going to go out and buy one and drive up and down the trail really fast.”
Anderson said he knows they are also used by people with disabilities
“I actually talked to a person who is disabled and he said the only reason he can even ride a bicycle right now is because of an E-bike,” Anderson said.
E-bikes have the capability of going up to 30 miles per hour, Simmert said. Speed limits on trails are limited to 15 miles per hour.
“I think we’d be crazy not to,” said commission member Richard Marks. “It would open the trail to more people.”