Groups working to build link between Janesville and Beloit
On two wheels or four?
Along country roads or old rail beds?
On Thursday, the Rock County Board of Supervisors endorsed the Rock County/Beloit-Janesville bicycle route master plan and feasibility study.
The board supports the county parks department's efforts to find a route from Afton to Big Hill Park in Beloit and possibly even a connection to bicycle trails in northern Illinois.
So far, cyclists can ride on bike trails from Janesville to Eau Claire Road, north of Afton. That's about 5.5 miles from the corner of Rockport and Afton roads in Janesville to Eau Claire Road north of Afton. That's where a county trail picks up and enters downtown Afton.
"Beloit, Janesville, the county and the townships are all working together to keep the project going," said Lori Williams, park director.
The county board resolution helps assure all the parties involved that the trail is a legitimate effort.
"Homeowners are more willing to give you easements when they know that," Williams said. "It will also help the grant process."
Williams gave credit to Dean Paynter and the Rock Trail Coalition for years of work on the trail.
The trail between the two cities has been has been the group's goal since it first met in 1992, Paynter said in a previous Gazette story.
Most recently, the Rock Trail Coalition, the cities of Beloit and Janesville, the Rock County Parks Department, Forward Janesville, Beloit 20/20 and Paddle and Trail, a Beloit business, all donated money to hire a Madison consulting firm to assist with the project.
Consultants have identified two potential routes and will help the group with grant writing.
The trail group is currently talking with landowners about permanent easements along the proposed routes.
One proposed route would go through Afton, turn on West Third Street and go over Bass Creek. That trail would require the restoration of a 125-foot railroad bridge. Another option would be to have the bike route take South Duggan Road instead of creating an off-road trail.