Preliminary work begins on new 500 mile trail in southeast Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Preliminary work continues on a 500-mile regional trail network proposed for southeastern Wisconsin.

The Route of the Badger project has been in the works for a few years, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. It would connect existing trails and add more trail miles in seven counties.

Joe Delmagori, with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, said he's working with local officials to identify the trail's potential route. About 300 of 500 miles already exist, he said.

The city and county of Kenosha recently recommended pursuing trail routes for the community, he said.

"I think it's understanding the importance of connecting communities, giving people options to get around so that you don't always have to get in the car to get where you need to go. Tourism opportunities, especially in the summer months," Delmagori said.

There's about $800 million available for regional trail networks each year, said Keith Laughlin, president of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, which recently held a national conference in Milwaukee on developing regional trail networks in the U.S.

"We've been closely following what's been happening with a potential infrastructure bill, looking at that as an opportunity to increase that funding," Laughlin said.

The group could lobby Congress to increase funding to regional bike networks in the 2020 federal transportation bill if the infrastructure measure is stalled, Laughlin said.

Project leaders don't have an estimate on the trail's cost.

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