WisDOT: No Bikes On Hoan

This afternoon, the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation released the announcement below that they will not accommodate bicycles or pedestrians on the Hoan Bridge.  While this is certainly a severe blow to the decade-long efforts to fill the missing link in the 162 mile long Lake Michigan Trail Network, the staff at the Bike Fed have not given up all hope.

We promise to make every last effort to find a compromise solution, this once-in-a generation chance is just too important.  Please stay tuned here for further news next week.

 
Hoan Bridge logo
Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Secretary Mark Gottlieb said today the department continues to work with Milwaukee area officials, including local community leaders and the mayor on their economic development priorities.“We’re partnering with local economic development leaders to make infrastructure improvements that will encourage more economic growth,” Gottlieb said. “We’re pleased to be able to meet the economic development priorities of the Milwaukee area.”In meetings with area leaders WisDOT noted the most important projects regarding economic development, including:

  • Studying ramp modifications in the Lake Interchange that, if deemed feasible, are consistent with the Lakefront Planning Committee’s lakefront development vision.
  • Construction of Canal Street and the bridge crossings of the Menomonee River, making Menomonee Valley businesses accessible to workers by bicycle and foot.
  • Providing development space along the former Park East freeway corridor.
  • Investigating other development opportunities throughout southeast Wisconsin.

WisDOT is in early discussions with the city of Milwaukee to investigate potential ramp modifications in the Lake Interchange. This could involve removing the I-794 eastbound exit and westbound entrance ramps that connect with Lincoln Memorial Drive. Options to enhance the Lake Interchange have been identified as a top economic development priority.

Given the need to prioritize the top economic development projects, after careful study, WisDOT is not moving forward with a bike path on the Hoan Bridge. “The Hoan Bridge is a vital part of the Milwaukee-area freeway system. However, the alternatives presented in the feasibility study would impair our ability to provide safe, efficient travel and deliver less value than other possible department investments in economic development in Milwaukee,” Secretary Gottlieb said.

“We’re making great progress on the area’s priorities,” said Secretary Gottlieb. “Our focus is always on promoting economic development and public safety.”

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About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

7 thoughts on “WisDOT: No Bikes On Hoan

  1. I believe we cyclists have been steamrollered by the highway interests who contribute much bigger bucks than we do toward the political campaigns that will happen next year. One of the curses of a recall campaign against Scott Walker is that groups like the highway interests will have no limit as to how much they can contribute to retaining Scott Walker as governor.
    We could have used TIGER grants to help build the Hoan Bridge connection. We need a presence in City Hall to fight for us as Bike-Ped Co-ordinator. let’s get some kind of movement on this issue so that Milwaukee cyclists can keep moving forward.

    • I share your frustration and disappointment, but disagree with your conclusion regarding the administration’s motivation. If a bike path is added, that adds at least $9MM in bridge construction costs, which some bridge construction company out there would love to see. Instead, I believe the administration’s motivation is based on a true (and to some extent laudable) desire to keep state expenditures low, and also based on some less laudable combination of (1) pandering to its base of “talk-radio conservatives” who hate everything about biking and bike commuters, and (2) an inability to grasp the importance of a decent urban bike infrastructure to economic development in this century.

  2. A colossal error by the current administration, based on an outdated and extremely-short sighted view of what generates economic development in major cities. Better bike infrastructure is the number one current trend reshaping and improving the urban landscape in New York City, Chicago, London and other major cities. Remember too that the number one industry these days in many major cities (including Chicago) is tourism. The announcement today makes it crystal clear that our current political leaders in Madison “just don’t’ get it,” and don’t have a clue when it comes to creating a vibrant downtown and Milwaukee lakefront. Shame on them. And how very not surprising that the DOT announced its “no bikes allowed” decision on the same day recall supporters announced they expect to surpass their signature goal this weekend. The fight on this is not over, nor should it be.

  3. I would love to see the $9+ million that is being saved by discriminating against nonmotorists on the Hoan Bridge be used to widen paved shoulders on 2 lane highways across the state. I find WISDOT only 3 feet of shoulder paving policy on 2 lane highways to be a joke. The gravel shoulders are an eyesore that waste taxpayers money through constant grading and regraveling.

  4. I would like to suggest an scenario that is not so off the mark from building Alternative 1A. This alternative is similar to the preferred Hoan bike path of 2001. The difference is that the concrete barrier was to have been a string of Jersey barriers separating car and bike. In 2001 there was reason for the temporary nature of the plan, given the redecking which was then a few years off.

    So if they redeck without the permanent concrete barrier, a temporary barrier could be added later per the public’s adopted design of 2001. The trends will favor this: Gasoline prices will rise as the world economy improves. Bikes will become more important and more present. Our roads may see less wear and tear. And a shift in the political scene will happen. In any political campaign maintaining the vision over the long haul is essential. And in this campaign we need to manage this vision as a bipartisan issue; if we allow one party to “own” it, we are making a long-term mistake.

    I read the comments we wrote to DOT and I note that there were several high profile businesses weighing in favor of the bike and pedestrian path. And 5400 signatures is not shabby. The folks who wrote against the bike path were of several minds: they did not have the facts, or they did not want to waste money, or they had contempt for bicycling. Many (not all) of these voices can be won over with patience and fact (and tact).

  5. This money could be better spent, as one comment above says to put proper shoulders on more roads in our state. More people would benefit from this shoulder improvement. Riding up on this bridge I believe is an expensive addition and after the initial interest wears off, will be used daily be very few people.

    • Denis, the funding is from bridge money, just for bridges. It can’t be used for other purposes. This was primarily a political decision that was supported by poor traffic engineering. People probably said nobody would use them about the bike paths on the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate, the Cooper River Bridge, etc. It is a moot point now, but on this, we will have to agree to disagree.

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