0105bridge.jpg Links Riverwest, Lower East Side Neighborhoods

Tying together two red ribbons, Third District Alderman Mike D’Amato and Sixth District Alderman Mike McGee, Jr. celebrated the opening of a pedestrian bridge linking their two neighborhoods as Mayor Barrett declared the North Avenue Dam Pedestrian Bridge open at a ceremony on December 15. The event emphasized the role of the bridge in linking two neighborhoods. “Milwaukee is living up to its original name, which means gathering place by the waters,” said Mayor Barrett. “Today, our riverfront and lakefront bring people of all neighborhoods together. This bridge offers the opportunity to enjoy riverfront trails and knits together two very different neighborhoods with the river being their common bond.” The North Avenue Dam Bridge is situated on the remnants of the North Avenue Dam, which was removed in 1997 to improve water quality in the Milwaukee River. The $1.3 million bridge spans 350 feet and provides the latest link in the expanding riverfront pathway system. Funding for the bridge was provided by a tax incremental financing district from the adjacent Beerline neighborhood. “This bridge enhances the value of the immediate neighborhoods and is a unique way to enjoy both the urban and natural settings Milwaukee has to offer,” said Alderman Michael D’Amato, who represents the district on the east bank of the bridge. The bridge is designed to fit into its immediate surroundings. The architects, Holabird & Root, chose materials for the structure that reflect the environs. The structure and rails of the bridge are constructed of Corten Steel and, as they weather to a warm cinnamon color, will be maintenance-free and will soon appear as much a part of the site as older bridges and loft buildings downstream. A single row of light poles bend over the walkway. Mayor Barrett said the enhancements along the Milwaukee River help raise awareness of water quality issues and solidify support of efforts to keep storm water runoff from entering the sewer system, one of the main causes of sewer overflows. Alderman Michael McGee, Jr. representing the district along the west bank of the bridge, agreed, saying that urban ecology lessons take on a greater meaning for children when they have regular access to natural resources. “People of all neighborhoods should think of the Milwaukee River as their special place to find a peaceful spot and enjoy the chance to catch more than just a glimpse of nature,” said Alderman McGee, Jr. “From this bridge, kids can spot blue herons, salmon and view grassy marshes upriver.”