Wisconsin Town Plans Bike Path in Former Railroad Corridor

  • Author: Laurel Schwartz
  • Date: April 18, 2024

In Kenosha, WI, high tension powerlines run above a former railroad corridor through the length of town. There are some existing bike trails, but they are intermittent and go nowhere. A RAISE grant recently awarded to the city is going to change that.

Plans for this project trace back to 2005, when Kenosha adopted a bike plan, identifying the former railroad corridor as a potential artery for cyclists. It would be extended 1 ¼ mile to link with an existing trail, which would connect cyclists to other parts of the city. Because the trail was already built to a higher grade to accommodate a train, the project initially seemed simple—all that was needed was a layer of asphalt. But parts of the trail had previously been connected by bridges, which are expensive to build. And because the corridor had been used by industrial trains, it was unclear if environmental cleanup would be needed before the site could be used by cyclists.

In 2022, the Rails to Trails Conservancy shepherded a multi-jurisdictional team to applied for a RAISE planning grant. While the team didn’t get awarded the grant on the first try, Kenosha again applied in 2023 and was awarded $5.58 million for the project.

History of the site

Kenosha’s bike plan terminates at the site of a former Chrysler car engine manufacturing plant, which first opened in 1902. After the plant closed in 2010, the federal government helped transfer ownership of the property to the city. Initially, the city looked for a large new manufacturer to take over the plant. But once it became clear that the space would no longer be used by an industrial occupant, the city needed to figure out how to make use of the large empty space. After cleaning up the former industrial site, the city created a redevelopment plan for the space to become a new innovation center.

“It’s going to be an incubation site with live and work units,” said Kenosha Planning Technician Mike Callovi. “The first two buildings are going up on the site now, and there will also be a new STEM high school and the first innovation space in the area,” he said.


The current mayor of Kenosha, John Antaramian has “been excellent at cobbling together various kinds of funding,” said Callovi. Mayor Antaramian, who is not running for reelection, led the city to get two grants in addition to the RAISE grant to help fund some of the infrastructure, which will be installed and managed by the municipality. Private developers were recruited to build the live and work units and the local school district is funding the new STEM high school.

Advice for other communities

“Don’t be afraid to try,” advised Callovi. His team had submitted their RAISE grant expecting to use the opportunity to get feedback on the weaknesses of their plan and use that information to strengthen their resubmission. “We were pleasantly surprised when they came back and said congratulations,” he said.

For more information about this project, email Mike Callovi at mcallovi@kenosha.org


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