After being closed for 5 years, the Stewart Tunnel is on its way to reopen, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is soliciting public input on what option trail users prefer. Bike Fed is supporting Alternative 4 – providing a safe, long-lasting solution to keeping the Stewart Tunnel open year-round.
Late last month, we encouraged cyclists to voice their opinion during the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s solicitation for public input regarding options for reopening the Stewart Tunnel. At that time, we at Bike Fed knew what the options were but were waiting on more information and clarity before choosing which option we preferred.
After meeting with DNR officials earlier this month about the options the department is considering for reopening the Stewart Tunnel, Bike Fed is officially advocating for Alternative 4, installing a corrugated metal pipe tunnel lining. This option keeps cyclists off the road, provides year-round access to the tunnel, and retains the bat habitat – all without requiring future maintenance that could result in the tunnel being closed once again.
Over the last five years since the Stewart Tunnel closed, our top priority has been providing a safe, off-street option for cyclists using the Badger State Trail. By advocating for Alternative 4, we are ensuring that cyclists for years to come won’t again be re-routed onto the street, all while being mindful of the historic significance of the tunnel, the ecosystem it provides, and the cost associated with these options.
While we are supporting Alternative 4, we understand that whichever alternative is chosen will have to receive budgeting approval from the Joint Finance Committee – something that in the past has proven difficult for trail projects. With this obstacle in mind, our second choice is Alternatives 1 and 2, providing rock netting and doors to the tunnel. This option still allows for tunnel use and is the most affordable in up-front costs, but doesn’t allow for bat habitation and will require future maintenance funding for DNR to find.
Given our official stance on the Stewart Tunnel alternatives, we are once again asking for cyclists to make their voice heard with the DNR by submitting feedback through their easy-to-use form on their website by June 17. Advocating for Option 4 or Options 1&2 combined will ensure cyclists and trail users have a safe off-road experience when using the Badger State Trail near the Stewart Tunnel.