The days of waiting for a decision on whether or not to include a bicycle and pedestrian path on the Hoan Bridge are nearing an end.
In an effort to display the inadequate connector between the north and south portions of the downtown Milwaukee Oak Leaf Trail, Senator Chris Larson and Representative John Richards invited members of the Department of Tranportation to meet with a group of cyclists - some even riding in all the way from Johnson Creek - at the Humboldt Park Pavilion. Members of the DOT did not show up for the ride, but a group of around 50 cyclists took to the streets anyway and rode the trail as described by the DOT.
But really, calling it a trail is a bit of a stretch. This part of the trail is a trail in name only. It starts on Russell Avenue in Bay View, heads south via mostly industrial roads such as Bay Street, Kinnickinnic Avenue and Second Street then curls around the Third Ward and back onto more industrial roads before finally reconnecting at Lakeshore State Park or the Milwaukee Art Museum.
"This route is complicated and itâ€™s dangerous," said Senator Chris Larson. "The traffic contains a lot of heavy construction vehicles, itâ€™s faster moving, and portions of the road narrow at dangerous intersections. This is a 40-year opportunity. If it doesnâ€™t happen now, we would have to wait until 2050. We likely wouldnâ€™t see it happen in our lifetime."
Visit Milwaukee, Milwaukeeâ€™s official convention and visitors bureau, believes that an attraction such as this would be great for visitors. Imagine being able to walk up the bridge and get a look at a unique perspective of Milwaukeeâ€™s skyline, an overhead view of Summerfest, a breathtaking, expansive view of Lake Michigan and a straight line down the Menomonee River Valley.
"You could practically see Miller Park Stadium from up there," said rider Sam Dodge.
Former Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator and current Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin Communications Director Dave Schlabowske added a different perspective.
"The Hoan Bridge path is a two-mile gap in a 163-mile trail. With the exception of a few small, but easily solvable, gaps in our stateâ€™s trails a bike rider could travel from Chicago to Oostberg, Wis. without having to use city roads."
Furthermore, by the time the Hank Aaron trail is connected to the Glacial Drumlin Trail this November, the Hoan will be a two-mile gap preventing cyclists from getting from Chicago to Madison via Milwaukee, around 168 miles.
"Really," Schlabowske added, "You could get from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi on our trails."
But the final decision is coming down to the wire. According to Representative John Richards, the feasibility study is set to be completed in mid-October, and it doesnâ€™t get more mid-October than today.
"Weâ€™ve been fighting for more than a decade. Back then the DOT did not listen and they proposed an alternate route that, quite simply, is inadequate," he said. "The entire connector is on very busy, industrial streets and passes through many dangerous intersections."
Larson added, "Ten years ago the DOT said they could not open the bridge to a multi-use path, citing projected traffic increases. Today itâ€™s been shown that prediction was incorrect. Instead of trying to explain the current alternate route, it would be so much easier to tell residents and visitors to just 'Go over the most beautiful bridge you can see.'"
So who is on board now? Bill Sell of bikethehoan.com has mentioned that he has been gathering signatures for the last 10 years, but those efforts have lately been paying off, more than doubling his total in the last two months. Larson confirmed that it is several thousand strong. Hundreds of businesses representing several thousand more people have also expressed interest in seeing a multi-use path over the Hoan. The Port of Milwaukee is working with the DOT to figure out the best way to get path users from the bridge back onto the ground. Even Governor Scott Walker is said to have softened on the issue because he is big on tourism and recognizes the potential of the path.
If you are also interested in supporting the the bicycle and pedestrian path you shouldnâ€™t wait any longer. For more information, or to add your name to the several thousand supporters visit bikethehoan.org. As Sell puts it, "Thereâ€™s nothing like this in the Midwest."
Idle1...construction barrels are not anchored to the ground, the bottom has part of an old truck tire and gravity does the work. Some devices do get anchored but barrel are moveable, thats why you see the guys at night moving them to shut down lanes.
As for wind, I was out riding the last 2 days where gusts topped 45mph, and I did not get blown over. I also ride in the area of the southern kettle and New Glarus, on two lane highways, and get passed by semi-trucks going 55mph+ and I dont get thrown from the road.
1. The orange barrels are anchored to bases, kind of like LEGOS.
2. I'd be terrified to ride my bike on the Hoan given the fact that my car, which I drive across the bridge twice daily, frequently gets buffeted from side to side by those lake "breezes". I'm in favor of a ground level path near the abandoned railroad tracks.
@BriGuy1982 "All I gotta say is if they take any car lanes out..."
Ahh I see. The truth has nothing to do with bike safety, the weather, the difficult of the climb, or whatever. And has everything to do with protecting extra automobile capacity. Got it.
All I gotta say is if they take any car lanes out so a couple of bikers can ride their bikes 5 months a year across a bridge because "It's totally cool".....Then no one wins, no one...
"I am sure the bike ride was easy for you, you sound like a seasoned veteran". Um yeah I started biking again about 2 years ago, and yes have put on a bunch of miles. But seasoned veteran? Nope. Out of shape smoker. Further, children have done the ride. It isn't hard.
As far as break downs and snow, the designs from the DOT would still include a 10 foot shoulder. Problem solved.
Show me the other 10 Talkbacks
15 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Jason McDowell
Published July 25, 2015
The Riverwest 24, a 24-hour bike races through the Riverwest neighborhood, enters its 8th year and welcomes 1,200 riders and several hundred volunteers. It's popularity has remained at something of a fever pitch despite the only prizes being ice sculptures with hot dogs inside.
Published July 18, 2015
The 53212 Unity Ride hopes to help bridge that demographic gap with an slow-rolling, exploratory bike ride that will bring together numerous community organizations from several diverse neighborhoods to look at gardens, murals and other historic points of interest.
Published July 15, 2015
It's a combination between the regalness of the old, 1997 skin-clad Admiral and the more recent 2006 bare-boned version. This new logo seems to be designed to split the difference between the desires of the fans of the either, but as a result it loses some of the dynamism of both.
Published June 24, 2015
Timothy J. Reynolds, who goes by the online handle turnislefthome, is a digital artist who specializes in adorable lowpoly 3D renderings of cartoon cars, imaginative, pastel and otherworldly landscapes, and video game inspired nostalgia.
Published May 8, 2015
No matter how far away you go for vacation, it's hard not to keep track of the similarities and differences of the cultures that you encounter along the way. Here are a few notes Jason McDowell kept during his visit to the motherland.
Published April 2, 2015
Basketball is a game that involves quick moves, clever tactics, and constant energy, but there is nothing dynamic about this logo. The whole thing is mirrored from right to left. There is nothing interesting about that. I want this deer to be doing something. Not running or fighting or playing basketball, but something as simple as turning its head would tell me it's a three-dimensional living, breathing, exciting team.
Published March 13, 2015
Bublr, the city's first bike share system, rolled out last year and was subsequently rolled back in before winter. But while the wheels were only on the ground for a limited time, the company still deemed it a success, coasting through the finish line with an impressive 5,500 trips. What was not so successful, however, was the confusing pricing. So as Bublr gears up to return, the company announced a new, simpler pricing structure.
Published March 4, 2015
Ramen for a dinner party is an exciting and relatively inexpensive theme to craft a dinner party around. At its very basic it only requires a few veggies and a handful of noodles, but it has the ability to unfold possibilities like a flower. During a ramen party, there is something of a slow, orchestral build until suddenly the cymbals are crashing, the violin bows are fraying and the tubas are blasting fortissimo.
Published Nov. 5, 2014
The Delphines' club shows were frequent and album releases were fast and furious. Eventually a full length album called "Hush" was released, but shortly afterward the band quietly broke up. Disappointment followed. How could we allow this to happen? This band felt like it was composed of sun-bleached driftwood, waiting for a match to drop and set fire to the music scene. It was a band that made Milwaukee's music scene vibrate. So I was surprised this morning when my phone lit up with a message...
Published Sept. 6, 2014
The theme is Steampunk, which is essentially a Victorian alternate reality in which electricity was never discovered, but steam-powered clockwork-based technology continued to move forward regardless. Thus the fashion show should feature gears, glass and leather laden corsets, top hats and other Victorian-esque paraphernalia.