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: email@example.com 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.