Menomonee River Parkway Renewal

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Project Documents   |  Newsletter: Update Oct. 6, 2015

The Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture will reconstruct 4.6 miles of parkway between Congress and Church Streets in 2015. The project presents a rare opportunity to RETHINK the function of the parkway and to RENEW its recreational significance.

Construction Phasing
Phase One:
   Segment One – W Congress to N Mayfair; April 6-June 1, 2015
   Segment Two – N Mayfair to W Burleigh, June 1-July 31, 2015
   Segments One and Two, Approximately 2 miles

Phase Two:
   Segment One - Burleigh to Church; July 13–completion
   Segment Two - East of Swan to Church Street, including Charles Hart Parkway; First week in October
   Segments One and Two, Approximately 2.5 miles


Project Awarded Additional Resources

Last month Milwaukee County approved an additional allocation of funds for the Menomonee River Parkway Renewal Project. With the additional resources, all work from W. Congress on the north to Church Street on the south will occur as well as improvements to Charles Hart Parkway north of Menomonee River Parkway.

As the end of the construction season approaches, it is not likely that all of the road-way work can be completed before the temperatures dip to the point where asphalt cannot be installed. The county is working with the contractors to assure that work already started between Congress and N. Swan Blvd. is completed in 2015. Only work east of Charles Hart Parkway that can be completed in 2015 will be started to assure that the roadway is passable for vehicles and snow plowing equipment in the winter.

Unlike the first segments of the project that proceeded from the west to the east, the segment between Charles Hart Parkway and Church Street will begin from the east (at Church where the existing roadway is the worst) and proceed west as far as weather will allow. All remaining work on the Menomonee River Parkway and on Charles Hart Parkway that cannot be completed in 2015, will be done in the spring of 2016.


Project Status

Phase One - (Segments One and Two)
(Congress to Burleigh)
Most of the project work north of Burleigh to Congress has been completed. The photo below illustrates the new concrete raised crosswalk that connects to the multiuse path at Auer Avenue. Storm water is channeled into the new bio-swales to be filtered before it reaches the Menomonee River. Sharrows for bike traffic have been added to the roadway and additional signage and plantings are still in the works.

Phase Two - Segment One
(Burleigh to Swan)
With the exception of topsoil and plant restoration, most of the major roadway work from Burleigh through Swan was completed by October 2. Crews will return before the end of the month to paint striping on the roadway and crosswalks doing half of the roadway at a time to keep traffic flowing. As shown above right, crews are asphalting the multiuse path which is scheduled for completion through to Swan the week of October 5.

Phase Two - Segment Two
Church Street to West North (East of Swan ), including Charles Hart Parkway
As noted earlier, only work that can be completed in this segment in 2015 will be started to assure that the roadway is passable for vehicles and snow plowing equipment over the winter months. Starting from the east at Church, the contractor hopes to begin removing the old road surface and doing sewer work beginning October 8. Grading, graveling, and new paving to Charles Hart Parkway is planned by the end of October. Keeping on schedule is weather dependent.


Reminders to Residents

Irrigation Systems / Invisible Dog Fences
If you are a property owner with an irrigation system that extends beyond your property line onto county property, you are reminded that you are responsible for removing the system prior to the contractor reaching the area. The same is true for invisible dog fences or other systems installed on county land. Neither the county nor the contractor are liable for any damage, repair, or replacement of any system that encroaches on County land (generally within three feet of the curb).

Vehicles / Parking
Do not park along the parkway during construction. Parking permits for side streets are available. Also, please remember to drive slowly and safely through the construction zone.

Oak Leaf Trail Users
The Oak Leaf Trail remains open to bicyclists and pedestrians. Motorists should follow detours posted. Closures begin the first week of October.

Dog Parks
Humans and their canine companions still have access to the Dog Park and, on foot, can still enter at the parkway gate. But please, no parking along the parkway. Dog Park users should park in the Capitol Drive parking lot and use that entry gate.


Stakeholder Questions

As construction progresses, we’ve been getting a lot of interesting questions from stakeholders along the parkway. We decided to include some of the more frequently asked questions and answers in the news-update for your information.


Q. What is the status of the traffic calming elements that are planned to slow traffic and increase pedestrian safety?

A. Work is not yet complete on the traffic calming elements of the parkway. There will be new bumpouts that shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians and narrow the vehicle traffic areas. At those bumpouts, new raised crosswalks will be constructed with red concrete rather than asphalt, and painted with white accents for visibility. The crosswalks will be raised enough to slow traffic but not so much that snowplowing is impeded. The narrow raised areas are planned at intervals of about every 1,000 feet. When the final layer of asphalt has been installed, there will also be striping of an offset center line to narrow the travel lanes and reduce any “speedway” effect. Painted “sharrows” will be added to show that bike traffic is also permitted in the vehicular lanes at bumpouts.


Q. Why are trees being removed from the parkway?

A. We understand It can be surprising to see trees removed along the parkway. Please know the design team includes park landscape architects and forestry design staff that take the task very seriously.

First, as the trail was being planned, forestry crews went out in the field and identified those trees that should not be touched. They were marked with ribbons and are being protected as the project proceeds.

They next identified what trees were absolutely necessary to clear in order to make way for the ten foot off-road multi-use trail. Many of the trees being removed are Ash due to the prevalence of Emerald Ash Borer in the area.

And finally, when the project reaches the final stages, there are plans for landscape restoration in the form of new tree and shrub planting, rain gardens, and other biofiltration areas designed to help improve the quality of the storm water entering the Menomonee River.


Q. What’s up with the lighting?

A. This project includes an update to the entire electric and lighting service along the parkway including  new conduit, poles and fixtures. In most cases, all of the new infrastructure must be installed before the new lights can be energized. Segment one should be lit in July, and segment two by August.


Q. People seem to be confused about the new parking plans.  Can you explain?

A. In the residential portion of the parkway north of Capitol Drive, parking is allowed on the asphalt  roadway and the concrete ribbon on the west side of the parkway. South of Capitol, parking is allowed on the east side of the parkway, adjacent to the dog parks.  Signage is being installed that should help clarify where parking is allowed and where it is not. Under no circumstances should anyone be parking on the grass or on the vegetative mats that have begun sprouting grass. Cars may park on the concrete ribbon.  Plans illustrating where parking signs will be posted are available online at the address listed below.


Q. Can you clarify what options are planned for pedestrians and bicyclists?  

A. Bike traffic will be on the parkway from Mayfair to Congress, which is designated as an on-road segment of the Oak Leaf Trail. A ten foot wide off-road multi-use trail for bikes and pedestrians is being constructed from Mayfair to Burleigh at the same time the parkway is being rebuilt. Phase two plans include an extension of the path from Burleigh to Swan.


Concrete ribbon, bio-swale, biofiltration basin

Q. People are confused about the concrete ribbon.  Can you explain?

A. One of the primary goals of the reconstruction project is to manage storm water in a sustainable way that promotes water quality. Currently, the majority of the parkway’s storm water is directed into catch basins and pipes leading directly to the river. As part of the reconstruction, green infrastructure like rain gardens, biofiltration areas, and infiltration swales are being introduced. Each of these elements works to manage storm water, filtering out pollutants before water reaches the river. The concrete ribbon directs water to sheet across the open turf areas, is used in lieu of curb, and eliminates the need for storm pipe on that side of the road. This ribbon is not constructed to be a pedestrian walkway or bike path, although some people are using it in that way.

Project Wins MMSD Grant for Additional Green Infrastructure

Best Management Practices for Rainwater Runoff

A $227,000 grant from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has been awarded to Milwaukee County Parks through the MMSD Green Infrastructure Partnership Program.  The program goal is to improve storm water runoff quality as part of the parkway renewal project.  The grant will allow the County to double the amount of green infrastructure components planned for the parkway, diverting and filtering storm water into bio-filtration basins with native plants, and grass lined bio-swales before it enters the Menomonee River.

Phase One of the Menomonee River Parkway Renewal Project includes . . .

16 rain gardens
• 4 bio-filtration basins
• 51 new storm water trees
• 3,400 linear feet of roadway runoff filtration
• 80% pollutant reduction
• Anticipated $300,000 investment in green infrastructure


Traffic Calming Features

Plan Includes Traffic-Calming Components, Multi-Use Path

In public planning meetings the community desire to calm traffic, improve safety, and provide pedestrian and bicycle access throughout the parkway came through loud and clear.   The plans for the parkway renewal incorporate components that do just that.  Extended Terraces and clearly marked raised pedestrian crossings will be installed at four locations along the parkway including Park Ridge Avenue, Keefe Avenue, Concordia Avenue, and Auer Street.  The extended terraces narrow the parkway, slow traffic, and create safer pedestrian crossing points.  A ten foot wide multi-use path will be built from Mayfair Road to Swan Boulevard.  The path will be shared by pedestrians and bicycles.



Additional Questions?
Property owners will be notified of construction and plan updates. News updates will be provided electronically as needed to keep stakeholders informed of progress. The cities of Milwaukee and Wauwatosa, neighborhood associations, impacted organizations and individuals and media that are already on our email list will receive updates and be asked to share the information with their networks. We aim to provide stakeholders with project information in the most timely and cost effective means possible. 

Questions may be directed to Sarah Toomsen at (414) 257-7389 or through the Contact Form 
Final Phase I (North Half) Project Plan Set
Final Phase II Project Plan Set

Plans will also be on display at the Milwaukee County Parks offices located at 9480 West Watertown Plank Road (access off Discovery Parkway).    


Watch this page for additional updates.


Menomonee River Parkway Renewal Project Documents

Final Phase I (North Half) Project Plan Set
Final Phase II Project Plan Set

Project Archive
    Update Oct. 6, 2015

    Update Aug. 24, 2015
    Update July 29, 2015
    Update June 24, 2015
    Update May 6, 2015
Update March 17, 2015
    Update Jan. 26, 2015
Project Update, Oct. 15, 2014
    Project Update from County Executive Chris Abele

Public Information Meeting #2, Feb. 12, 2014, Review of Design Concepts
    PowerPoint Presentation (as pdf)

Public Information Meeting #1, Nov. 20, 2013
    Context Map (PDF)
    Public Information Meeting #1 Handout
   Map #1: Congress Street to Burleigh Street
   Map #2: Burleigh Street to North Avenue
   Map #3: North Avenue to Church Street
   Exhibit #1: Traffic Calming Tools
   Exhibit #2: Stormwater Tools
   Exhibit #3: Stormwater Tools
   Exhibit #4: Bicycle Improvement Tools
   Exhibit #5: Pedestrian & Planting Improvement Tools


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