By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Did you know that Colfax is on the Twister Trail?
The Twister Bike Trail, that is — which is part of the Greater Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce Let’s Ride in Dunn County bike trail map.
And since Colfax is on the bike trail map, the village should be promoting bicycle tourism, said Patrick Beilfuss of Cedar Corporation at the Colfax Plan Commission’s October 1 meeting.
The map features an extensive bike trail route throughout Dunn County using both county and town roads, such as the Sand Creek Circle in the Sand Creek area, the Northwest Loop north of Boyceville, and the Getaway Loop south of Boyceville.
The Twister Run Trail through Colfax connects with the Loggers Loop around Menomonie, the Buffalo Run east of Menomonie, and the Rustic Road, the Caddie Woodlawn Trail and the Lower Chippewa Loop south of Menomonie.
One thing that the village and businesses in the village can do to encourage bicycle riders to come to Colfax is to create places where riders can park their bicycles, Beilfuss said.
If there are bike racks available where people can safely leave their bicycles, it will encourage them to stop at local businesses in Colfax, he said.
The Twister Trail bike route comes into Colfax on County Highway BB on the west side of town and exits Colfax on County Highway M to County Highway N.
Along with bicycle tourism, the village should work on developing Safe Routes to School for walking and biking, Beilfuss said.
Safe Routes to School are trails or routes within two miles of the school, he said.
The walking and bike trails and routes encourage children to walk and bike to school, which encourages exercise to help fight childhood obesity and also reduces the amount of traffic on village streets and on school district property, Beilfuss explained.
If the village has a Safe Routes to School plan, then the village can apply for a Safe Routes to School grant. The grant funds the development of the walking and biking trails and routes at 100 percent, he said.
Developing additional bike trails and routes in the village also will help encourage bicycle tourism and will make Colfax an attractive destination, Beilfuss said.
Members of the Colfax Plan Commission also discussed street extensions at the October 1 meeting as part of the update of the village’s comprehensive plan.
If road corridors are included on the comprehensive plan maps, then village officials can show those maps to developers who are planning developments and can require the developers to incorporate those plans into their designs, Beilfuss said.
Extending streets will create routes that will allow traffic to move smoothly throughout the village, he said.
Examples of street extensions that will be included on the comprehensive plan maps are Third Avenue and Fifth Avenue to County Highway M, and Park Drive past the new Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center to the south.
One of the goals of the transportation element is to support a variety of safe transportation options to make traveling safe for existing residents and to attract new residents to Colfax, Beilfuss said.
Colfax can also work with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to make the crosswalks safer on Main Street/state Highway 40, Beilfuss said.
Colfax Plan Commission members noted that getting across Main Street can be a real challenge.
Dave Hovre, plan commission member, said he had stood in the crosswalk one day and waited for a very long time to be able to cross Main Street.
The vehicles driving through Colfax completely ignored the fact that a person was trying to cross the street, he said.
Difficulty crossing Main Street was also an issue brought up in the Power of 10 workshop through the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission last summer.
“Traffic calming techniques,” such as bump-outs or other techniques to visually narrow the crosswalks, encourage drivers to slow down and watch for pedestrians, Beilfuss said.
A number of grant opportunities are available for transportation projects, Beilfuss said.
The DOT has transportation enhancement grants, and the DNR has stewardship grants to help purchase land for bike or walking trails and picnic areas, he said.
Colfax can also coordinate trail and sidewalk improvements with a state or county highway project, Beilfuss noted.
Street development can be coordinated with industrial development and linked to job creation, he said.
If a business is going to create a substantial number of new jobs — or if a business expansion will create a substantial number of new jobs — the village can get 50 percent of the road improvements and utilities paid for through the state and through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Beilfuss said.
Railroad infrastructure also can be used for economic development, and Beilfuss said the village should consider preserving land next to the rail corridor for business development.
The village could also develop a rail spur to encourage industrial or commercial development, he said.
The Colfax Plan Commission meets next on November 5 and will discuss the agricultural, cultural and natural resources element of the comprehensive plan.
Scott Gunnufson serves as chair of the plan commission. The other six members are Gary Stene, who has absent October 1, Beverly Schauer, Dave Hovre, Mike Buchner, Nancy Hainstock and Jason Johnson.