Bike trail flooding

The Oregon Rotary bike trail has been unusable for most of the past couple of years after flooding submerged about 600 feet of it.

When it comes to Rotary Bike Trail improvements, Village of Oregon public works director Jeff Rau is encouraging patience.

He delivered a brief update about the state of the trail at a special Wednesday, March 31, Village Board meeting to address public inquiries staff have received about when the path will be useable.

Lake Barney, a glacial kettle to the north across municipal boundaries in the City of Fitchburg, has ballooned from its historical size of 33 acres to over 300 in the last few years, as pressure on the water table and increased precipitation has left nowhere for the water to go. Some of that water has been a main contributor to the flooding of the Rotary Bike Trail.

City of Fitchburg staff have presented options for lowering the lake to different levels using a ditch and outlet system to send water toward Oregon through the Alpine Dairy, but any solution will need to come after the village upgrades its stormwater infrastructure.

“Lake Barney is going to have to go down a lot to clear the path,” Rau said to trustees over the March 31 Zoom call. “I will have my crews out there to be able to clear this, but I’m pessimistic this will happen this year.”

Email Emilie Heidemann at or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.