This project involves the reconstruction of John Nolen Drive from North Shore Drive to Olin Ave, including replacement of the six bridges along the John Nolen Causeway, and partial replacement of the bridge wingwalls over Wingra Creek. The project also involves partial shoreline replacement along the John Nolen Causeway and bicycle-pedestrian improvements along the adjacent Capital City Trail. This project will be planned/designed in coordination with the on-going Law Park redevelopment.

John Nolen

John Nolen (June 14, 1869 – February 18, 1937) was an American landscape architect, planning consultant, and writer, and the founding member of the American City Planning Institute. He completed a number of projects in Wisconsin – Nolen developed plans for the University of Wisconsin, the city of Madison, and the state park system. His comprehensive approach blended social, economic, and physical aspects of urban life with the preservation of natural beauty.

History of John Nolen Drive and Madison

  1. Humans First Inhabit Madison area

    Circa 10,000 years B.C.E

  2. Ho-Chunk Nation

    ~3,500 years ago

    Primary Indigenous People in the Madison-area. Effigy mounds built for burial and ceremonial purposes dot the landscape.

  3. First European Settlers


    Starting in the 1600s, European immigrants settle in Wisconsin, beginning the forcible displacement of Indigenous Peoples.

  4. Madison named as Capital


    Madison first proposed as Wisconsin’s Capital by James Duane Doty

  5. Railroads

    1854 – 1864

    Population – 5,126 – 9,170
    The Turville family purchase land in 1854 and at the same time the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad is put in place along John Nolen Drive, later adding another railroad track for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Company.

  6. New Development

    1864 – 1881

    Population – 9,170 – 10,400
    This was the time period of new development on land bought from the Turville family. They had multiple resorts and an assembly area throughout the years. 

  7. Private Farmland to Public Use

    1890 – Present

    Population – 15,345 – 254,977
    There were talks of MATC being built on the Turville Farmland, which got turned down by the community and then the city bought all the land from the Turville family and created Olin Park and Turville Park and eventually started working on conservation and restoration projects.

  8. Improvement


    John Nolen Drive opened as an original two-lane causeway.

  9. Expansion


    John Nolen Drive widened to a four-lane causeway.