The Environmental Protection Agency has chosen the city of Madison as one of the state capitals to receive assistance through the “Greening America’s Capitals” program this year, meaning the city can expect bike path improvements and further development in city parks.

This past fall, the EPA sent requests for letters of interest in their Greening America’s Capitals program. This program has provided assistance to 14 U.S. capital cities that are all trying to be more environmentally conscious, a statement from the EPA said.

Greening America’s Capitals is an EPA program that helps state capitals develop environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green infrastructure strategies, the statement said.

By implementing green infrastructure strategies, communities can choose to more effectively maintain healthy waters, provide multiple other environmental benefits and support sustainable communities, the statement said.

“At the scale of a city or county, green infrastructure refers to the patchwork of natural areas that provides habitat, flood protection, cleaner air and cleaner water,” the statement said. “At the scale of a neighborhood, green infrastructure refers to storm water management systems that mimic nature by soaking up and storing water.”

With help from this program, the Triangle Neighborhood near West Washington Avenue, Regent Street and South Park Street will be receiving assistance to make it easier for residents to access transit to get to green spaces and Monona Bay. This program could also help improve water quality in the bay, the statement said.

Bill Fruhling, principal planner at the city’s planning division, said the program should help neighborhoods find ways to work together to improve their infrastructure.

“This program can really start a dialogue about how to integrate the Triangle Neighborhood with its surroundings because one of the issues with that area is that it is surrounded on three sides by major roads,” Fruhling said.

Fruhling said through the program, the city can explore how to connect the neighborhood to other parts of the community like Monona Bay and Brittingham Park. 

The Triangle Neighborhood could see bike path and street improvements with help from the program and the addition of more trees and rain gardens to better manage rainwater accumulation, Fruhling said.

Mayor Paul Soglin said the city should welcome help from the program.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to deal with environmental issues particularly pertaining to landscaping and water run off,” Soglin said. “This is a great opportunity to increase urban green spaces and potentially trap rainwater in rain gardens.”

Starting next week, the EPA will begin working with the city to put together a detailed project description and hire a team of qualified consultants that are regionally based near Madison, the EPA said.

The statement said the project will offer a workshop in early summer, and will then offer a report detailing possible projects and potential costs. The resulting projects should take between six and nine months.