Bike and walking trails are great for staying in shape and getting back to nature.

City planners also see the trails as ways to promote residential development.

Last week, the city of Janesville took steps to gain federal funding to expand a west-side bike trail.

The proposed first phase of the Fisher Creek Trail would branch off bike lanes on North Austin Road and Mineral Point Avenue near Parker High School and cover two-thirds of a mile from Dartmouth Drive to Austin Road.

David Salmon, a city planner, says the long-term plan is to connect County A and County D with pedestrian trails in the city and town of Janesville.

“We want to have a corridor that runs basically from the Robert O. Cook Memorial Arboretum all the way to Rockport Park,” Salmon said.

The city of Janesville will apply for a federally funded Wisconsin Department of Transportation administrative grant. If approved, the grant would cover 80% of the proposed project cost. The 20% share the city would pay would total $215,234.

“The trail would be entirely on the green belt, so there would be no land acquisition cost,” Salmon said. “The ($)215(,000) includes the cost of designs and the cost of construction and engineering.”

In addition to a new trail, the project envisions improving the crossings at Mineral Point Avenue and Court Street, Salmon said.

“The project will connect the surrounding west-side neighborhood to Parker High School and is the first segment of a long-term vision to develop a north-south trail corridor,” Salmon wrote in the grant application proposal approved by the Janesville City Council last week.

Salmon said trail expansion would provide other routes to schools and appointments that would not require motor vehicles.

The city’s long-range developmental plan for the west side also would benefit.

“When you talk about recreational trails like this, it is a huge amenity for developers for residential areas,” Salmon said. “It’s a built-in price in your housing.”

The expansion of residential housing near Parker High creates a need for the project, Salmon said.

“You have to connect the subdivision that is out there already to the rest of the city a little bit better,” Salmon said. “This would help put it on the radar.”

Salmon expects to receive approval of the application in the next couple of months.

“It would probably start next year at the earliest,” Salmon said.

Salmon also is preparing a grant application to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for another portion of the Fisher Creek Trail from Rockport Road to just past West Court Street. He plans to submit project plans to the city council for approval in April.

Janesville has more than 30 miles of city-managed bicycle and walking trails.

“We’re going to do a trail-use survey this summer to update our usage numbers,” Salmon said. “One of the things that has been going on the last couple of years is an increase in the on-street biking infrastructure.”

West Court Street is scheduled for redesign and rebuild work in 2025, Salmon said. Those plans include on-street bike lanes that will run from the Five Points intersection to Waveland Road.

“One of the nice things about this trail is once it gets built and the infrastructure happens, there is going to be really nice connections from those neighborhoods,” Salmon said.

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