By Brandi Makuski
City officials this week gave initial approval for its newest committee to apply for federal grant funds.
The city’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee presented the city with plans to apply for a Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant. The funds would be used to repaint almost 14 miles of bike lanes, as well as place clear signage for bicyclists- with destination routes- throughout the city.
Mayor Mike Wiza said his office was made aware of the grant just weeks prior to Monday’s meeting.
“I was made aware of this opportunity in early December, the deadline is the end of January,” Wiza said at Monday’s finance committee meeting. “The people of the bike and pedestrian advisory committee, as well as city staff, have really busted their humps to put together a project of this magnitude in time for consideration.”
Trevor Rourke, vice-chair of the bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee, said the grant would allow the city to create a “network” that better connects several neighborhoods for those using alternative forms of transportation.
“And it connects residents and visitors to major businesses and employment areas, schools, neighboring jurisdictions, parks and existing bike facilities,” he said.
Rourke added the project was developed based on guidelines from the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation and the Portage Co. Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which was adopted by both the county and the city in 2015.
The TAP grant would cover 80 percent of the project’s cost, which is estimated at $444,000, though on Tuesday, Mayor Mike Wiza said those costs were expected to come down slightly.
“They’ve been looking at some alternative quotes for the cost of the paint,” Wiza said. “So we don’t have final numbers yet, but we’re expecting it to be a bit lower.”
Wiza added if the grant was approved, the city would still need to cover 20 percent of the project’s cost, which could be in the form of in-kind work by city employees.
If the grant is awarded, the project would begin its design phase in 2017 and be finished by 2019.
The next step is to obtain final approval for the grant application from the city council on Monday, Jan. 18. The council meets in the courthouse, 1516 Church St. at 7 PM and is open to the public.