The Northern Highland Multi-use Trail was designed and constructed in concert with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) reconstruction of USH 51. Our team provided the conceptual trail design, landscaping, and construction administration for the project while another consultant provided construction documentation.
The trail in Mercer plays an important role in this historic north woods tourist destination by creating a friendly and safe pedestrian and bicycle environment that connects the outskirts of downtown with the central business district. The project also helps the town meet its goal of strengthening the local economy through nature-based outdoor recreation and trails.
Ayres also provided design and engineering for the second phase of the Northern Highland Multi-use Trail. This trail consists of approximately 7 miles of on- and off-road trail that generally parallels USH 51 from the terminus of the existing trail on the south end of Mercer to the county line to connect Mercer with Manitowish Waters and the Boulder Junction Trail System. The project consists of six segments. Segments 1, 3, and 5 are off-road trails on WisDOT right-of-way. Segments 2, 4, and 6 are on-road.
As a part of the site selection for Segment 3, our team evaluated using the existing right-of-way off STH 51 as it parallels the Manitowish River and bottlenecks at Manitowish near the STH 47 intersection. However, due to wetlands and a difficult crossing at the intersection of STH 51 and STH 47, Ayres researched another route to use an existing WisDOT right-of-way that was thought to be abandoned, along with an existing old utility easement. Ayres’ persistence and initiative kept the project moving ahead, provided a safer route, and saved the Town over $600,000 by significantly reducing the length of boardwalk and using existing defunct pavement.
Development of this project followed the WisDOT Sponsor’s Guide to Non-Traditional Transportation Project Implementation.