The Hank Aaron State Trail running east and west through the middle of Milwaukee is becoming a commuter route from as far as New Berlin, but representatives from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) offered advance notice on a number of disruptions that will occur in the next few years, to people who came to a public presentation at the Wisconsin Bike Federation, 3618 W. Pierce Street, August 27.
From S. 94th Place to the Oak Leaf Trail near N. 124th Street, the regular bike path will be closed from November 2013 for about three years. This portion of the trail runs directly under the Zoo Interchange, which is up for massive reconstruction lasting until 2018, and alongside sections of I-94 that are also being reconstructed.
An alternate bike trail will be posted along city streets in West Allis, running along Schlinger Avenue, S. 98th Street, across the newly rebuilt Greenfield Avenue bridge over the I-894 / Hwy 45 freeway, up S. 101st Street, west on Washington Street, and then on S. 120th Street and Underwood Parkway. DNR staff noted that in West Allis it is legal to ride bikes on the sidewalk — in Milwaukee, although police haven’t given out tickets in years, it is legal only for riders 10 years old and younger. All others must ride in the streets.
Among the long-term benefits coming out of this closure is that the entire close section of the trail, currently gravel, will be paved, and there will be an enclosed bike path running north from the trail, along Hwy 100, separated by a barricade from motor vehicle traffic, leading to a short stretch along Blue Mound Road to enter the Milwaukee County Zoo.
A new ramp will be built between September 2013 and June 2014 connecting the eastern end of the trail to the 6th Street viaduct, just north of the Iron Horse Hotel. Currently, bike riders must transfer from the street to the path via the roundabout near Virginia Street. New sidewalks along the 6th Street viaduct will allow for bike as well as pedestrian traffic, because the sidewalks are planned to be 11 feet wide.
Reconstruction of the intersection of Watertown Plank Road and Hwy 100 will feature a square of pedestrian crossings, connecting raised triangles where pedestrians can wait for a walk light. Right turning traffic will have a separated lane inside the triangles, which will perhaps prove to be the greatest hazard. A new footbridge will be constructed across Watertown Plank Road connecting Ronald McDonald House to the medical complex south of the road, but this will be for pedestrians only, not bicycle traffic.