Wisconsin River Trail Organization: Securing the DOT STARS Grant for a Transformative Trail Project

In an exciting turn of events, the Wisconsin River Trail Organization (WRTO), is thrilled to announce our remarkable achievement – securing the coveted DOT STARS grant worth a staggering $2,069,460.80! This accomplishment is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our board, our community, and our volunteers. And it reflects our commitment to creating a legacy trail that will serve our rural communities for generations to come.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how we successfully navigated the grant application process, the benefits of the DOT STARS grant, and the alterations we made to the trail project that will contribute to its overall success.

A Strategic Move: From DOT TAPS to DOT STARS

Last year, we made a strategic decision to transfer our Department of Transportation (DOT) TAPS grant to a DOT STARS grant application. The motivation behind this move was two-fold. Firstly, our rural community, though small with less than 5000 people, had a unique advantage – a dedicated team capable of crafting a compelling grant proposal, a rare asset for most small communities. Recognizing this potential, the State supported our shift to the DOT STARS grant.

Secondly, the shift to DOT STARS allowed us to improve our funding situation significantly. Instead of the TAPS 80/20 award, which required us to cover 20 percent of the project’s cost along with engineering fees, the new grant offered a more manageable financial arrangement. It either required less cost matching or, in some cases, eliminated it altogether, thus enabling the inclusion of engineering expenses in the grant. This alteration was undoubtedly a major win for us!

The Road to Success: Funding and Construction Plans

With the DOT STARS grant now in our hands, we have set our sights on commencing the trail project by next summer. We have a generous timeline of four years to initiate construction. As part of our preparations, we have been diligently accumulating our fundraising money, ensuring we would be ready to meet any financial requirements associated with the grant. This proactive approach showcases our commitment to delivering the project efficiently and without unnecessary delays.

Overcoming Obstacles: Alterations to the Trail Path

Our journey to realizing the trail project was not without its challenges. Initially, our plans were set, but we faced an unexpected hurdle – the Borden Road, an integral part of the trail, was destined to become a dead end due to a land purchase by ADM to enhance their train transportation operations. This development posed a significant roadblock for the trail, as a parked or moving train could potentially hinder trail access and safety.

In the face of adversity, WRTO and the involved entities demonstrated remarkable cooperation and resilience. Together, we reimagined the trail path, making essential alterations to ensure safety and accessibility. The revised plan involved routing the trail under a yet-to-be-constructed trestle bridge and alongside Sanders Creek. This collaborative effort proved to be a win-win situation, exemplifying the power of patience, understanding, and teamwork.

Gratitude and Hope for the Future

Throughout the process, we extend our sincere appreciation to TEAM Engineering and Mike Reynolds, local champions who played pivotal roles in supporting the project. Additionally, we acknowledge the State’s confidence in our community and their decision to invest in our trail. The DOT STARS grant serves as a testament to the belief in our vision, propelling us towards the realization of our legacy trail.

As we look forward to breaking ground on the project next summer, excitement abounds in our community. The trail promises to be more than just a physical pathway; it will be a symbol of unity, progress, and a source of pride for the entire community. Together, we are building not just a trail but a lasting legacy that generations to come will cherish.

Call to Action: Support Our Trail Project

We couldn’t have achieved this incredible milestone without the support of our community members and partners. As we embark on this transformative trail project, we invite you to be a part of this exciting journey. Your donations can make a real difference in helping us create a trail that will benefit generations to come.

By contributing to the Wisconsin River Trail project, you’ll be playing a crucial role in preserving the beauty of our rural community and fostering a healthier, more connected environment for everyone. Every donation, no matter the size, brings us closer to our goal.

Consider making a monthly gift to WRTO, starting as low as $5/month. By contributing on a regular basis, you’ll be playing a crucial role in preserving the beauty of our rural community and fostering a healthier, more connected environment for everyone. Every donation, no matter the size, brings us closer to our goal.

To make a donation and show your support for the Wisconsin River Trail, please visit our donation page. Together, let’s build a legacy trail that will stand the test of time and create lasting memories for our community.

Thank you for your continued support and belief in our vision.

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