Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Beer Line Trail Loop

Overview:
Milwaukee County Parks Department was awarded $320,000 from DOT federal highway funds toward a $400,000 conversion of the Beerline right-of-way to a bike trail. The River Revitalization Foundation raised the 20% matching funds as the local sponsor, or $80,000. Milwaukee County will work with RRF and local property owners to build this trail linking Gordon Park and Riverwest to Commerce Street, connecting under the North Avenue bridge. This trail will help preserve the invaluable natural area along the Milwaukee River north of North Avenue while providing links to the adjacent neighborhoods, to the newly developing residential area south of North Avenue, and to downtown.

Historical Perspective
Historically, this section of the Milwaukee River Valley was a focal point of commerce and recreation with swimming, boating and ice-skating as major uses. For the last half century, the city turned away from the river because it was severely polluted. The recent removal of the dam at North Avenue combined with water quality improvement efforts throughout the river basin, has resulted in improved water quality and changing attitudes. The river’s edge is now a desirable real estate location and its vegetated buffer is threatened with residential and commercial development as housing moves up the Milwaukee River from downtown. Building this trail will help preserve the invaluable natural area along the Milwaukee River north of North Avenue while providing links to the adjacent neighborhoods, to the newly developing residential area south of North Avenue, and to downtown.

Trail Benefits
The trail will contribute to improving the neighborhood’s overall quality of life. Neighbors will have a public open space in which to meet, chat, and enjoy the quiet. Residents will gain pleasant and safe access to downtown for commuting to work and to recreational activities; students will gain safe access to schools and parks.

Community health will improve
The proximity of the trail to the high density Riverwest Neighborhood will encourage residents to increase their physical activity; this can result in improved individual and community health as well as a reduced public health burden. Fewer people will rely on their cars, so the air will be cleaner.

The local economy will improve
Visitors from other neighborhoods and tourists are likely to visit the area as they explore downtown and Milwaukee River environs, opting to visit shops and restaurants on Center Street. Property values near the trail will likely increase as the bike path becomes a desirable public asset.

Natural and historical areas will be preserved and interpreted
The trail will contribute to the community’s overall goal of preserving the natural area buffering the Milwaukee River, an excellent area for birding and nature study. The trail will also be a good place to learn about the rich history of the Milwaukee River. We’ll creatively incorporate history and nature into trailside amenities.

Trail Basics

Location:
The proposed trail will be located on an abandoned railroad right-of-way formerly known as the “Beerline” in the City of Milwaukee. The project is bounded by Locust Street on the north, Humboldt Boulevard on the west, North Avenue on the south, and the Milwaukee River corridor on the east.

Length: 4,000’
Width: 10’
Surface Materials: asphalt

Connections:
The segment of the Beerline to be converted to bike trail is situated at the crossroads between the Riverwest and UWM/North Shore suburban neighborhoods and the City of Milwaukee Downtown area. The proposed trail will facilitate non-motorized travel between those destinations by connecting with:
  • Existing City of Milwaukee bike routes on Humboldt Boulevard, Locust Street and North Avenue
  • Planned City of Milwaukee off-street paths in the railroad corridor to the northwest of the subject trail and extending into the Downtown area at the southern end of the trail
  • Milwaukee County’s Oak Leaf Trail, which is located on the east side of the Milwaukee River and connects numerous parkways and park sites.
Current Status and Links
Milwaukee County received $320,000 from federal highway funds for a $400,000 conversion of the Beerline right-of-way to a bike trail. The River Revitalization Foundation (RRF) has raised the 20% matching funds as the local sponsor, or $80,000. Milwaukee County will work with RRF and local property owners to build this trail linking Gordon Park and Riverwest to Commerce Street. The DNR awarded RRF with a Stewardship grant of $200,000 to cost share in the land acquisition along the Milwaukee River from Gordon Park to Wright Street. RRF purchased a section of the rail corridor and will transfer this land to the County Parks Department. Acquiring and preserving this nearly 5-acre property for public access and trails will also help protect the river valley. A land swap will complete the contiguous corridor needed to develop the trail.

How You Can Support this effort
Collectively these benefits create an overwhelming reason to support the Beerline Trail. To add your support, contact the Kimberely Gleffe at kgleffe@riverrevitalizationfoundation.org or 414.271.8000

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The mission of the River Revitalization Foundation is to establish a parkway for public access, walkways, recreation and education, bordering the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers; to use the rivers to revitalize surrounding neighborhoods; and to improve water quality.

The River Revitalization Foundation is a certified non-profit 501(c)(3) conservation organization

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