Group hopes to bridge gap between Janesville, Beloit ... with a bridge

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Shelly Birkelo
Friday, February 22, 2013

— Members of the Leadership Development Academy of Rock County hope to literally bridge Beloit and Janesville by installing a new crossing over Goose Creek at Big Hill Park.

The new bridge would connect the two communities via the Beloit-Janesville trail, said Kelli Cameron, a member of the bridge project team. Installation is planned sometime between May and September.

Cost for the 30-foot-long by 15-foot-wide prefabricated wood bridge is estimated at $30,000. Donations are being sought and fundraisers planned to cover costs.

Once money is raised to buy the bridge, it will be ordered through Custom Manufacturing of Clinton. Delivery is expected to take about six weeks.

A local contractor with a crane is being sought to donate services to lift the bridge into place on existing railroad bridge abutments, Cameron said.

Cameron said the academy team reviewed several community and nonprofit-related projects but chose the bridge “because of the positive health, economic, community and environmental impacts.”

Project team members are working with others from Beloit and Janesville, the Rock County Parks Division and the Rock Trail Coalition to attain needed engineering, Department of Natural Resources permits and fundraising for the bridge.

Already the Rock County Public Works Committee has voted to request state trail designation for the multi-use trail. The resolution still needs approval from the Rock County Board, Cameron said.

Assuming the board OKs the resolution—and the state follows suit in approving state trail designation—marketing and funding opportunities to develop and maintain the trail through the DNR could follow, she said.

The bridge, which would stand on city of Beloit property at the intersection of West Big Hill and South Afton roads, will be maintained by Rock County and cared for by the Rock Trail Coalition through stewardship initiatives. It would play an important role in economic growth, home values, health, wellness and tourism, Cameron said.

“Trails are good for local residents who live and work in Janesville and Beloit but they're also great for the economy,” she said.

“People who have houses on the trail improve their home values, plus the trails are great for tourism.”

As proof, Cameron said Christine Rebout, executive director of the Janesville Convention & Visitors Bureau, told project organizers the Rock County bike trail map is the most downloaded item from the bureau's website.

Last updated: 8:08 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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