Published: December 19, 2008 by the South Central Region
Contact(s): Lance Stock, Ranger Asst. Property Manager, Lake Mills: (920) 648-8774
LAKE MILLS - Bridges along the Glacial Drumlin State Trail in Jefferson and eastern Dane County are now sturdier and in less need of annual repair thanks to an innovative solution centered on recycling a material used in rock quarrying.
The year-round recreational trail, which lies on an abandoned railroad line, is used by walkers and runners, bicyclists, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. A 26-mile stretch between Switzke Rd. in Jefferson County and the western trail head in Cottage Grove, Dane County, is managed by DNR ranger Lance Stock out of his office in the renovated train depot at Lake Mills.
Sixteen wooden bridges are situated along this section of the trail. The bridges, two of which are more than 300 feet long and another at 880 feet in length, are all decked on the top with 2x8 inch or 2x10 inch treated lumber over the existing railroad ties.
"The treated decking takes a beating in the winter from the studded tracks on snowmobiles. The center of the bridge decking actually gets carved out in the middle of the boards, leaving a concave indentation down the entire length of each bridge. These boards then need to be replaced the following summer," pointed out Mr. Stock.
In stepped trail maintenance man Wayne Hasel during the summer of 2007, who, after annually replacing and repairing deck boards on a shoe string budget, came-up with a way to preserve and cut maintenance costs on the bridges.
Looking to prolong the life of these deck boars, Mr. Hasel spoke with his son-in-law, Pat Garity, who works for Genesee Depot Aggregate in Waukesha County, about acquiring used quarry belts to further strengthen the bridges' deck boards.
The rubber quarry belts are used on a conveyor system which moves rock from the quarry to an area when the stone is crushed. The heavy duty rubber matting belts are 3/8 inches thick and two feet wide.
After more applied research and several phone calls, Mr. Hasel was in contact with Genesee Depot Aggregate manager Kurt Ripkey who said that quarry owner Elaine Kraut would generously donate belting to help maintain the bridges.
Twelve thousand screws and washers were used to install the quarry belting before November of this year. Only the 880 foot Big Muck Farm Bridge, due to structural damage from last spring's flooding, is closed to snowmobiling this winter. The bridge is located 3.4 miles east of Lake Mills and two miles east of London in Jefferson County. The 0.7 mile detour is routed through Zeloski Marsh State Wildlife Area on the south side of the trail.
"Wayne is an asset to the Glacial Drumlin Trail stemming from his ability to work creatively with limited resources. This (bridge work) is a prime example of his innovative approach to reducing and recycling old materials," said Mr. Stock.
The entire 52-mile Glacial Drumlin State Trail runs through glacial landscapes between Waukesha and Cottage Grove. There is a 1.5 mile on-road stretch near Jefferson. The 12 miles from Waukesha to Dousman is paved.