Historic Water Tower Neighborhood encourages members and other residents to attend an important public information meeting from 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 19 on the future of Lake Park’s historic but deteriorating Ravine Road footbridge.
The meeting will take place at Lake Park’s Marcia Coles Community Room beneath Lake Park Bistro. Residents will get an update from the county at the meeting and be able to share their opinions on what should be done.
Recently, new information has been made available to support saving the bridge:
- Last month, Olson & Nesvold Engineers, of Bloomington, Minnesota, a firm with expertise in restoring historic bridges, submitted a report to the county saying that “there is a reasonable rehabilitation option with a service life of 40-50 years.” This differs from a prior study saying that restoration could only extend the bridge’s life by 15 to 25 years.
- In June, the State Historic Preservation Office wrote that the county “must demonstrate that (the) bridge cannot be feasibly repaired” before considering other options. “A new construction design is not appropriate and will result in an adverse effect to the historic parkway property.” Lake Park, designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was designed by Milwaukee architect Alfred C. Clas, who also designed the nearby Lake Park Pavilion and Grand Staircase leading to Lincoln Memorial Drive.
- Supporters have identified federal grants available to pay for most of the cost of repairs, greatly reducing cost to county property taxpayers. In contrast, the cost of replacing the bridge would need to be fully borne by county property taxpayers — the grants cannot be used for replacement or demolition.
Due to deterioration of the iconic 1905-1906 Lake Park footbridge, Milwaukee County officials are exploring options ranging from repairing the reinforced concrete arch structure, replacing it with an historic-looking bridge, replacing it with something more modern — or simply removing it entirely. The bridge and Ravine Road were closed in December 2014 after deterioration was detected. While pedestrian access to the bridge has since been restored, Ravine Road below remains closed for now due to the potential of falling concrete from the bridge.
Note: Other past HWTN stories on the Ravine Road Footbridge with links to related reports and documents are posted below.
Milwaukee County Parks, GRAEF, and UW-Milwaukee are hosting a public information meeting to present a current study for addressing the repair or replacement of the Ravine Road Bridge in Lake Park on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.
Doors will open for the meeting at 5:30 p.m., and the presentation takes place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The meeting will take place at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Room 110, 2131 E. Hartford Ave.
The presentation will include description of the bridge’s history, condition, options, current activities and plans moving forward. All are welcome to attend and comment.
HWTN representatives are on the county’s work group established to review and provide input into three alternative replacement designs and cost estimates. See this story on HWTN’s website about the county’s plans for reviewing design options and this article about HWTN’s position, the county engineering study on the bridge’s condition and a discussion of the bridge’s history.
FILED UNDER: MEETINGS & EVENTS
Milwaukee County Parks Seeking Historic Designs For Replacement of Iconic Pedestrian Bridge Over Ravine Road in Lake Park
Milwaukee County Parks has issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a firm to design an historically appropriate bridge to replace the crumbling 1905-’06 concrete pedestrian bridge over Ravine Road in Lake Park.
According to a story in BizTimes, “the RFP is asking a consultant to prepare three alternative bridge replacement schematic designs and cost estimates for each. A work group, which will include members of Lake Park Friends, the historic preservation community and Milwaukee County staff, will be established to review each design.”
Representatives of Historic Water Tower Neighborhood and Lake Park Friends recently met with County Parks Director John Dargle, his staff and Ald. Nik Kovac about future of the iconic bridge. Lake Park Friends and HWTN representatives will serve on the work group reviewing three designs for the bridge replacement.
According to the county’s RFP, the selected firm will develop three alternate designs:
“One alternative will replace the bridge in-kind to replicate the original design and appearance of the bridge. The other two alternatives will be new bridge designs that are substantial replications compatible with the historic nature of the Fredrick Law Olmsted designed Lake Park. The consultant shall work closely with the work group in developing these two alternatives.”
The consultant will also be required to hold two public meetings on the designs and work with the City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission and State Historical Society to coordinate reviews and obtain required permits.
HWTN unanimously passed a resolution in October to oppose removal of the 1905-’06 historic concrete bridge with anything but an appropriately historic replacement. In the board’s resolution, it noted that one of the park’s signature pedestrian bridges is:
- “Of significant historic importance, having been designed by the prominent Milwaukee architecture firm of Ferry & Clas, which also designed Milwaukee’s Central Library, the Pabst Mansion and the Lake Park Pavilion.”
- “An integral part of Lake Park, designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City’s famed Central Park.”
Consultant proposals to do the design work are due Feb. 5. The selected consultant is expected to begin work on April 1, with a design slated to be chosen by June 30.
HWTN opposes demolition of Historic Lake Park concrete arch footbridge over Ravine Road or replacement with modern steel bridge
Milwaukee County has recently determined that the historic, iconic and beautiful (1905-’06) Lake Park Concrete Arch Footbridge over Ravine Road is in poor shape, and Parks Department officials are considering a range of alternatives:
- Repairing the current bridge
- Replacing the bridge with one with the same historic design and features
- Replacing the bridge with a modern, steel-girder bridge
- Demolishing the bridge without replacement
Historic Water Tower Neighborhood is opposed to replacing the historic Lake Park Arch Footbridge over Ravine Road in Lake Park with a prefabricated steel truss bridge or any other architectural style different from the current bridge. HWTN also opposes simply demolishing the bridge.
Here is the resolution passed by the HWTN Executive Committee in October:
Whereas, The historic Lake Park Arch Footbridge over Ravine Road is considered an iconic and beautiful feature of Lake Park, one of Milwaukee County’s most popular parks;
Whereas, The bridge is of significant historic importance, having been designed by the prominent Milwaukee architecture firm of Ferry & Clas, which also designed Milwaukee’s Central Library, the Pabst Mansion and the Lake Park Pavilion;
Whereas, The bridge is an integral part of Lake Park, designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City’s famed Central Park;
Whereas, The Lake Park Arch Footbridge over Ravine Road provides needed circulation through the park, connecting the north and south portions of Lake Park near the bluff and crosses Ravine Road, enabling north-south passage through the park without returning to Lake Drive;
Whereas, The bridge is used extensively by walkers, bikers, joggers, birders and others from around Milwaukee County;
Whereas, The City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Guidelines for the North Point North neighborhood state that, for Lake Park, “every attempt should be made to maintain the historic vehicular and pedestrian circulation system in the park including drives, paths, stairways and bridges. New parking areas, roadways, paths or bridges should be designed so as to be compatible with the historic character of the park”;
Therefore, Be It Resolved, That the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood opposes replacing the historic Lake Park Arch Footbridge over Ravine Road in Lake Park with a prefabricated steel truss bridge or any other architectural style different from the current bridge. We also oppose simply demolishing the bridge. HWTN encourages the county to consider and act promptly on the other two alternatives outlined in the July 2015 inspection report on the bridge — either repairing the current bridge or replacing it with a new reinforced concrete arch bridge that matches the dimensions and aesthetic and architectural features of the current bridge.
Learn more about the issue by reading the county’s engineering study of the bridge, which discusses the bridge’s current condition and outlines several options and costs for each; and by reading this history of the bridge.
Milwaukee County Parks is holding a public meeting on the issue this Thursday, October 15 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. in O’Donnell Park’s Miller Brewing Room at 910 E. Michigan Street. There will be free parking. Public input is welcome, so consider going and telling county officials your thoughts on this matter.
These are the county officials who will be making the decision on the bridge, and their contact information, for those interested in voicing their opinions on the issue via phone or email:
- County Executive Chris Abele: CountyExec@milwaukeecountywi.gov or (414) 278-4211
- Milwaukee County Supervisor Gerry Broderick: firstname.lastname@example.org or (414) 278-422
- Milwaukee County Parks Director John Dargle Jr.: john.dargle@Milwaukeecountywi.gov or (414) 257-4501
- Urban Milwaukee covered the Oct. 15 county parks meeting with this interesting and detailed story.