This is the St. Croix County Bicycle and Pedestrian plan map. Submitted photo
This is the St. Croix County Bicycle and Pedestrian plan map. Submitted photo

Submitted by Debby Walters

WOODVILLE, WI – The purpose of the St. Croix County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan adopted by the St. Croix County Board in May of 2017 is to expand the opportunities for biking and walking throughout the county whether it be for basic transportation or recreation.  The initial Bicycle plan for the county was written in 1995 and updated in 2008.  The 2008 plan identified low-traffic roads and corridors for future trails.  The impetus for the recently adopted plan is the St. Croix Crossing Project (the new Stillwater Bridge).  Included in that project is a Loop Trail designed for bicyclists and pedestrians that connects Wisconsin and Minnesota via the lift bridge and the new bridge. 

The funding for the updated plan came from a Transportation Alternatives Program grant, which allowed the county to form an advisory committee and hire Toole Associates to fact find, coordinate activities, make recommendations, and write the plan.  Residents of the county were asked to provide input via listening sessions, an on-line mapping tool, and other public meetings and hearings.  Residents of Baldwin and Woodville Area provided quite a bit of input in the mapping tool.

After more than a year of study and work, a bicycle and pedestrian plan was put forth.  It establishes recommended routes throughout the county, proposes better signage, wider paved shoulders along some roads, and paths separated from the road way.  There are five priority connections.  The first is I-94 to River Crest Elementary School, the second from the Loop Trail to Willow River State Park, next is the WI HWY 35 connection into Hudson, the fourth is the Loop Trail to Somerset, and lastly, the one of most interest to Baldwin-Woodville, a bicycle/pedestrian path between the two villages which follows Rose Lane and BB (the backway between the two towns).  Because of the amount of input provided online by area residents and the ability to connect into the Wildwood Trail in Woodville, this trail was chosen as a priority.  Initially the plan just called for wider shoulders along Rose Lane but because of the high traffic volume and safety concerns on that road, the recommendation was upgraded to a separate path.

Brett Budrow, St. Croix County’s Planning and Land Information Administrator, presented the plan to the Town of Baldwin’s Board shortly after it was adopted.  According to Doug Veenendall, Town Chairman, the town board felt that it is a good plan and is in favor of it for health and recreation reasons; however, it is a very expensive proposition and there is no money for it.  The Town is planning on resurfacing a portion of Rose Lane in 2019 and this would be the ideal time to widen the road and pave a shoulder to make it safer for bikers and pedestrians or to add a pathway.  At this time the Town can afford to resurface a mile of roadway a year and there are 52 miles of road that the town is responsible for.  The costs, of course, rise substantially when shoulders are widened and paved.

So was preparing a county-wide plan a worthless endeavor?  No, it provides a well-thought out plan, which can be used in writing grants.  Grants can provide money for projects such as these, which benefit area residents.  The best way to approach grant writing is for the Villages of Baldwin and Woodville, the B-W School System Safe Routes to School program, and the Town of Baldwin to work together on the applications.  The county is willing to provide support to grant writers as is the St. Croix Bike and Pedestrian Coalition; anyone interested?

To read the details of the St. Croix Bicycle and Pedestrian plan, check out the St. Croix County website: co.saint-croix.wi.us/bikepedplan.  Go to section 2 of the plan, which outlines the overall county recommendations and details the five priority areas.