Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Interurban recreational trail has positive relationship with We Energies

Cyclists on the Interurban Trail. 
Courtesy Kurt Gering. 
Because weather is warmer, more cyclists are out enjoying rides. Southeastern Wisconsin has many recreation trails that bike enthusiasts can access for a fun-filled day of riding.

What you may not know is that many of these trails are on our properties, including utility right of ways that were first used as passenger rail lines.

In Ozaukee County, the 30-mile Interurban Trail follows the former Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company’s rapid transit railway that started in Milwaukee and made its way to Sheboygan in the early 1900s.

From 1905 to 1951, the rapid transit system made stops in many rural communities such as Brown Deer, Thiensville, Cedarburg, Grafton, Port Washington, Belgium, Cedar Grove, Oostburg and Sheboygan.
Interurban Trail.
Courtesy Ozaukee Interurban Trail website

According to the Ozaukee Interurban Trail website, the interurban line also was made famous for transporting African-American blues musicians to the main recording studio for Paramount Records recording label. The studio was first in Port Washington, and later moved to Grafton.

Andrew Struck, the director of Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department says that the collaboration on the Interurban Trail with We Energies has been wonderful.
I-43 Interurban trail bridge.
Courtesy Ozaukee Interurban Trail website

“The Interurban Trail has had a long-standing positive relationship with We Energies,” said Struck.

Our Property Management group works with local municipalities and counties with licensing recreational trails on We Energies right of ways.

“Once we license a trail, a municipality or county funds and constructs it,” said Julie Simmons, our right of way agent. ”We may approve other improvements along the trails such as kiosks, signage, benches and nature guides, as well as bigger-ticket items like bridges.”

Simmons points out the pedestrian/bike bridge that connects the trail on one side of Interstate 43 to the trail on the other side as an example.

“We were very excited to work with Ozaukee County on this project. Ozaukee County had a vision for a connection point and took this very challenging idea from inception to completion,” said Simmons.

We also have worked with the Interurban Trail to improve its safety. A just-completed project in Port Washington allows trail enthusiasts to ride along We Energies’ right of way instead of a busy highway.

Unlike many recreational trails in Wisconsin, the Ozaukee Interurban Trail is free for everyone. The trail is intended for year-round uses, including biking, in-line skating, walking, running and cross-country skiing. So, come out to the trail today!

Ozaukee Interurban Trail

Ozaukee Trailside Birding Guide

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