On Friday, June 15th, a new pedestrian bridge was installed over the Oak Leaf Trail at Riverside Park. This bridge is part of a park access plan created by the Urban Ecology Center, Milwaukee County Parks and other community stakeholders and is incorporated into the Rotary Centennial Arboretum scheduled to open in Fall 2013. In addition to being a beautiful addition to Riverside Park, this trussed arch bridge greatly increases accessibility to the park. Funds for the bridge were raised by Milwaukee County Parks and the Urban Ecology Center and were contributed by the Department of Transportation – Transportation Enhancement, Department of Natural Resources – National Recreational Trails Act, and a private match by Fred and Susie Kasten.
During a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 23rd as part of our Summer Solstice Soiree & Auction event, the name for the bridge - “Susie’s Bridge” - was revealed. Our Executive Director, Ken Leinbach, had this to say about the importance of this bridge: “On the other side of this bridge are the woods. For many of the kids we work with, their first experience with nature will be at the other end of this bridge.”
Susie’s Bridge is part of a park access plan created to increase use of Riverside Park and create access points for persons in wheelchairs. The deck of this bridge is lower than the previous bridge; set at ground level on either side so that users don’t have to climb any steps to cross the bridge. A new switchback path has been created on the west side of the bridge leading into the park to circumvent an existing set of stairs as well. The approaches on either side of the bridge and the new switchback path are currently graveled, but will be paved later this year. Other park improvements included in the access plan are the new canoe launch and fishing area on the Milwaukee River which was completed in October of 2011, crushed gravel paths along the river and a switchback trail leading from Locust St. to the riverfront trail.