The last section of trail missing between the Milwaukee Lakefront and the Ozaukee Interurban Trail is currently under construction. This trail follows the former Chicago and Northwestern route (the “400”) between Hampton Avenue and Mill Road. This would allow for a largely unbroken (except for city streets in Cedarburg, Grafton, and Port Washington) trail route between Milwaukee and Oostberg in Sheboygan County. The remaining obstacle is the bridge across the Milwaukee River.
The photo shows the bridge under construction taken from the west end. It makes use of the old railroad bridge, but with a new wooden deck and railing.
The trail itself is currently paved from the Milwaukee River Parkway north west to Mill Road. There were already a fair number of bicyclists taking advantage of today’s great weather.
I have been doing a bit of maintenance on the site. I filled a gap on the Milwaukee to Door county route. I also added links the pdfs of the Great Lakes History Tours, published in the 1970s. The Lake Superior guide is a full pdf copy (minus the fold-out map) that I found on the Government Printing Office web site. The Lake Michigan pdf includes the route instructions and two city maps. While old, these guides can be a valuable starting point for trip planning. If you use them, please send me a report, so I can update them with current information.
The new trail running from Glendale to Brown Deer Park is now paved, although finishing touches need to be applied (this past weekend it needed its final layer of asphalt and landscaping ). This trail follows the route of the former interurban streecar between Milwaukee, Port Washington, and Sheboygan, although it appears that the interurban name will not be used in Milwaukee county unlike in Ozaukee and Sheboygan counties. Instead it will be called the Oak Leaf trail south of Brown Deer Rd and the Brown Deer Trail between Brown Deer Rd and the county line.
This trail will serve as an alternate route between downtown Milwaukee and the Interurban trail system. To follow it, start with the same route along the former C & NW rail-to-trail conversion, and follow that route through Estabrook and Lincoln parks. But rather than continue north along the Milwaukee River Parkway, cross the parkway to the west and follow the trail to the intersection of Villard and Green Bay. Cross Green Bay and continue on the park trail and, once the trail ends, on Villard to 25th. Go north on 25th. The road jogs a bit and changes its name several times, but just keep going north until there is no more road. Pick up the trail and continue north. You can go all the way to Oostberg (with a few well-labelled gaps) before the trail runs out.
Over at Bikeverywhere, I have put a series of posts identifying missing links, the opportunities where a bit of improvement will either open up additional bike routes or make the existing ones a lot more pleasant. Three in particular are for routes discussed on this site:
- The Milwaukee-Racine county line stretch, traditionally the worst part of the Milwaukee-Chicago route.
- Port Washington Road connecting Bayside and Mequon, the most dangerous part of the Lake Drive route between Milwaukee and Door County.
- Hales Corners, the most challenging part of the Milwaukee-Elkhorn route.
Glendale has just opened a new bike trail running south from Mill Road along the former Interurban route to Sidney Place. Among other things, this trail connects a Glendale neighborhood isolated by two railroad tracks to the rest of Glendale.
For bicyclists traveling to Brown Deer Park (or further north along the Interurban Trail), the new trail offers an alternative to following the Milwaukee River Parkway. Going north, the new route starts with the recently repaved (mostly) trail that leaves the parkway before the first of two bridges crossing Lincoln Creek and continues northwest to Villard Avenue. Then the route continues west to 25th St. The route then goes north along 25th, with a few jogs until Sidney Place dead ends. The new path starts there and runs through a triangle formed by the intersection of three railroads. At the end of the path, the bicyclist can job east on Mill Road and then north on Range Line Rd to the park.
The Milwaukee parks department has plans to build a trail connecting the new trail with Brown Deer Park, also along the old Interurban right of way. More long range plans call for converting an abandoned right of way connecting the north end of the new trail to the existing Oak Leaf Trail that follows Wilson Drive south of Hampton. The railroad abandoned this track some years ago but apparently has still not called it excess.
I have just posted a note on the bikeverywhere blog about a meeting this Thursday to discuss plans for connecting the Oak Leaf trail to the Interurban Trail.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has recently issued a draft report on putting a bike lane of the Hoan bridge that crosses Milwaukee’s harbor. A public hearing is scheduled for November 14.
This facility would close a gap in Milwaukee’s Oak Leaf Trail. It would also close a gap in the series of trails that run from Chicago through Milwaukee towards Door county along Lake Michigan.
The challenge is that the lowest-cost alternative would take one of the north-bound traffic lanes, reducing vehicle traffic to two lanes from three. Alternative that do not take a traffic lane are considerably more expensive.
An extension of the Brown Deer Trail is now paved and ready to open between Brown Deer Rd and Brown Deer Park. This is good news for several reasons. It eliminates the need for a potentially dangerous left turn between Green Bay Ave and the old village center of Brown Deer. It also means that the Interurban trail system is connected to Milwaukee county’s Oak Leaf Trail. Finally, the Interurban Trail system now runs from Brown Deer Park to Oostberg in Sheboygan County (with a few on-street interruptions).
(cross-posted at Bikeverywhere)
The new bicycle bridge on the Oak Leaf Trail is finally open. It replaces the old railroad bridge in Shorewood.
Several plans have been announced for construction in 2011:
- Hank Aaron Trail extension. Presently the Hank Aaron State Trail ends at 94th Place in West Allis. Bikes can continue west on the old right of way but the pathway is quite rough, more suitable for mountain bikes than road bikes. Plans have been announced to put in a temporary crushed stone surface connecting the HAST to the Oak Leaf Trail. Following the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange, plans are to construct a paved surface.
- Lake Country Trail paving. Last year both the western and eastern ends of the Lake Country Trail were paved, leaving the middle section, mainly through Nagawaukee County Park, unpaved. On its website the Waukesha county parks department has announced that paving the middle section will start this spring. This announcement should be treated with a bit of skepticism since the paving of the middle section was originally announced for last year.
- Oak Leaf to Ozaukee Interurban Trail connector. For some time plans have developed, and grants have been announced, to build a trail connecting the Ozaukee Interurban Trail (in the person of the Brown Deer Trail at Brown Deer Road) to the Oak Leaf Trail at Hampton Avenue on the north edge of Estabrook Park. The connector would use both WE Energies right of way dating from the old Interurban tracks and unused railroad tracks. Phase I of this project from Brown Deer Road to Bradley Road, connecting the Brown Deer Trail to the Oak Leaf Trail at Brown Deer Park, scheduled to take place this summer. While short, this section would eliminate a very tricky left turn between Green Bay Road and the old village of Brown Deer, a turn that is dangerous in both directions.
- Downtown to Bay View connector. This path would utilize long-abandoned railroad tracks east of First Street between National Avenue and Kinnickinnic Ave, replacing part on the on-street route between downtown Milwaukee and Bay View. This project was first presented some years ago, unfortunately as an alternative to allowing bicycles on the Hoan Bridge.
I would be very disappointed if these are the only bike-oriented projects around Wisconsin. Please let me know about those I have missed.
Cross-posted at Bikeverywhere.