Today the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) released a report that identifies five workable options to add a bicycle and pedestrian path on the I-794 Hoan Bridge on Milwaukee’s lakefront. The Federal Highway Administration directed WisDOT to do the study because since 2001 federal policy has required bicycle accommodations on projects that use federal funds unless there is an absence of need or the cost is excessive, which is typically defined as exceeding 20% of the total project. In this case, the estimates place the cost of rehabilitating the Hoan Bridge between $275 million and $350 million.
Click here to download and read a PDF (6.4mb) of the 120 page draft study done by Graef Engineering, a private firm.
WisDOT is currently accepting public comment on the report and will present its findings at a public hearing on the study and the project:
- Date: Nov. 14 from 5-7 p.m.
- Location: DOT’s downtown Milwaukee office, 1001 West St. Paul Avenue.
“It is very exciting to finally get the study, and we look forward to working with the staff at the WisDOT and the Governor’s office to try to capitalize on a once in a generation opportunity to fill this gap in what is probably the most valuable trail system in Wisconsin, ” Kevin Hardman, Executive Director for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. ”The 160 mile network of trails from Chicago to Sheboygan along the Wisconsin coast of Lake Michigan is a tremendous asset for our state. The Bike Fed is confident that the engineers at our Department of Transportation and our political leaders recognize the value in improving that trail system and will balance the costs with the benefits in a responsible manner.”
The Hoan Bridge is located in the 19th Assembly District, which is represented by Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee). Today Rep. Richards released the following statement: ”As a longtime supporter of adding a bike lane to the Hoan Bridge, I am encouraged that engineers have identified five feasible options for safely accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians on the bridge or alongside it. Transportation officials are accepting public input right now. Supporters need to submit comments soon so their view can be considered by the decision makers at DOT.”
“In the coming weeks I will continue to work with the bicycling community, other area leaders, business leaders and others to sustain the momentum we’ve built behind this project. Biking over the Hoan in a dedicated lane with a barrier would clearly be more scenic, more safe and more direct than the current route. By working together with DOT, I remain hopeful we can finally make our longtime goal of biking over the Hoan a reality.”
Public comments should be directed to DOT should be directed to:
Carolynn Gellings, P.E. Project Manager
Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)
P.O. Box 798
Waukesha, WI 53187-0798
Many people are concerned about the Level of Service issue mentioned in the study. I’m not a traffic engineer, but I did videotape morning rush hour to see what it looks like with a lane of traffic closed AND the break down lane closed, a worse situation than the proposed design of the path. What is life like for commuters who have to drive over the Hoan every day with the current maintenance work on the Hoan not only has closed down a travel lane, but the shoulder as well? Are they stuck in Los Angeles-like traffic jams? I decided to check and made videos of peak hour traffic (between 7 am and 8 am) on three different days from three different locations. Guess what? Not only are cars not stuck in traffic jams like they are coming into downtown from the north, and west, traffic is actually free flowing and moving at 50 mph with plenty of gaps.
The video above was shot during morning rush hour from the breakdown lane when it was closed for repair earlier this summer. You can see the traffic is speeding along and there are plenty of gaps.
The video above shows morning peak hour traffic with one northbound travel lane closed and the breakdown lane closed, a worse situation than proposed if the path is built. You can still see free-flowing traffic and lots of gaps.
The video above was shot just before 8am from the 34th floor of the US Bank building. While the bridge is busy, it is hardly jammed with traffic. Cars are moving at 50mph with plenty of gaps even with two full lanes closed and the traffic forced into the shoulder and regular outside travel lane.
Thanks to the lane closures caused by ongoing maintenance work on the Hoan, we have been given a glimpse of he worst case traffic scenario should a bike path remove one lane of traffic for motor vehicles. The facts are that the Lake Parkway feeds the Hoan with two lanes from the south and the three lane Hoan goes down to two lanes to feed I794 west. Neither traffic volumes nor roadway geometry warrant three lanes on the bridge.