A meeting hosted by the Department of Transportation Monday night will give residents a two-hour opportunity to ask questions and share opinions about the proposal to add a bike and pedestrian lane on the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge.
The meeting in the DOT offices, 1001 W. St. Paul Ave., starts at 5 p.m. DOT planners will make a presentation at 5:15.
The proposal to unify bike paths on the north and south side of the bridge had drawn divided views.
Advocates call it a vital link in a 160-mile corridor of bike paths along the Lake Michigan shoreline, and an affordable addition that will serve commuters and attract tourists.
At a news conference on Wednesday, area legislators and champions of the Hoan Bridge bike path said they had gathered more than 6,000 signatures on petitions stating support of the addition.
Critics say the cost is too high at a time when the state has cut spending for schools and health care, and that the ride over the Hoan would be too steep and windy for most bicyclists.
Last month, the DOT presented five options that survived a feasibility study conducted by the engineering firm Graef USA. The costs range from $9.4 million to close a northbound traffic lane and build a 14-foot path separated from traffic by a concrete barrier, to $95.5 million for a separate structure to carry a bike path over the current bridge.
The full report on the alternatives can be found here.
Proposals that would maintain three lanes of traffic in each direction on the Hoan would cost upward of $95 million, and less-costly options would eliminate a northbound traffic lane and create traffic congestion during the morning and evening peaks.
The report said the bridge's capacity to carry traffic would be inadequate with only two northbound lanes. It also said that northbound traffic averaged 46 mph during the evening rush hour, with one lane closed during the recent repair project.
Even the bike path supporters have focused primarily on the $9.4 million alternative.
“It’s prudent to choose the least expensive option, and we encourage WisDOT and the Federal Highway Administration to look at ways to lower that cost,” wrote Dave Schlabowske, communications director for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. “For instance, if it saves money, bicyclists would be happy with a narrower path than the proposed 14 feet.”
A final recommendation will be part of the DOT’s plan to reconstruct the road way atop the 2-mile bridge. That work is expected to cost $275 million to $350 million and begin in 2013.
Federal guidelines for that work will impact the final decision on the Hoan bike lane.
Federal Highway Administration policy holds: “In any case where a highway bridge deck being replaced or rehabilitated with Federal financial participation is located on a highway on which bicycles are permitted to operate at each end of such bridge, and the Secretary determines that the safe accommodation of bicycles can be provided at reasonable cost as part of such replacement or rehabilitation, then such bridge shall be so replaced or rehabilitated as to provide such safe accommodations.”
“Bicyclists and pedestrians should be accommodated in new construction in corridors where there is current or potential demand. Under 23 U.S.C. 217(g), transportation plans must consider bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.”
There are exceptions, however, if the additional cost would exceed 20% of the reconstruction project or the bike lane would reduce the roadway capacity below adequate levels.
Of the proposed alternatives, the more costly options requiring structures added to the Hoan would likely exceed the 20% and the less-costly options would result in inadequate traffic flow, based on DOT estimates.
The FHWA also advised the state road planners to explore other options. One of them, an on-street bike path from Bay View to downtown Milwaukee is now being built. A segment of that path, the raised bike lane on Bay St., opened last month.
For those who cannot make it to the meeting the DOT is taking input through Nov. 30.
Options include email to the project manager at firstname.lastname@example.org, a letter to WisDOT’s Southeast Regional Office, P.O. Box 798, Waukesha, WI, comment on Facebook@HoanBridge Wisconsin DOT or Twitter@WIHoanBridge.