Lake Park Bridge Needs $1 Million More
Cost now at least $3.4 million to repair historic footbridge designed by Olmsted.
It looked to Milwaukee County officials like they had finally put together the funding to fix the historic Ravine Road Bridge in Lake Park. But as far as local contractors are concerned, they’re about $1 million short.
The bridge, more than 110 years old, spans Ravine Road and connects the northern and southern halves of Lake Park. In 2014, major structural problems were noticed and the road beneath was closed.
In 2019, parks was awarded a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant for $2 million. Then, the county received another TAP grant for a sinkhole on the Oak Leaf Trail, which freed up more than half a million dollars that were then transferred to the bridge project. The Lake Park Friends also raised $300,000 in private donations, which were put into a fund to pay for maintenance over the 50-year lifecycle of the bridge once repairs are made.
The county’s engineers estimated the total construction cost for the project would be approximately $2.65 million, said Karl Stave, acting director of Architecture, Engineering and Environmental Services for the county. That estimate, Stave said, had been thoroughly vetted. It had been run through the state DOT before the county released a request for proposals on March 24th.
There were 40 contractors that showed interest in the project, Stave told the county board’s Finance Committee. There were six contractors the county thought were “legitimate, qualified contractors,” and only two bids were received.
The lowest bid on the project came in at approximately $3.4 million from Zenith Tech, a construction firm based in Waukesha, Stave said. The second lowest bid was over $3.7 million from Michels Corporation.
“To be point blank honest, I never thought I’d have to do this,” Wasserman told the committee. “But because of bids and because of construction and because of various other costs that are gonna be discussed by parks staff… We thought we had enough money for it.”
The TAP funds have a deadline attached to them that require the county to start construction on the project within the first six months of 2021. Wasserman and county officials say the extra funds are critical to securing a contractor so as not to lose the $2 million making up the bulk of the project’s financing.
Wasserman’s district includes Lake park and he said that after the county discovered it would need to repair or replace the bridge the feedback from community meetings showed there was significant public support for repairing the bridge given its historic significance. This point is underscored by the $300,000 the local friends group managed to raise for the bridge.
Sup. Ryan Clancy, at committee, put it this way, “Lake Park Friends raised $300,000 not for a super sexy project, for bridge maintenance.”
Lake Park is a federally designated historic place. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City’s Central Park.
The committee ultimately voted five to two to approve the additional $1 million for the project.
Supervisors Liz Sumner and Shawn Rolland both voted against the fund transfer after expressing concern about tapping the contingency account for the project, and whether it made sense to repair such an aged bridge.
Sumner questioned whether the $1 million really met the defined purposes of the contingency account, and said she was concerned by the contractors backing out because of the riskiness of the project. Rolland questioned whether a single footbridge in a county park was truly worth an additional $1 million, when there is millions of deferred maintenance in parks all across the county.
Ultimately the years of work parks staff and other county officials put into the project, the huge support for historic preservation and the possibility of losing the $2 million TAP grant were what won over the committee.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.
- MKE County: Lake Park Bridge Needs $1 Million More - Graham Kilmer - May 18th, 2021
- County Receives $2 Million Grant for Lake Park Bridge - County Executive Chris Abele - Sep 12th, 2018
- County Parks To Seek State Grant to Fund Ravine Road Bridge Project - Milwaukee County Parks. - Feb 8th, 2018
- Op-Ed: Lake Park’s Bridge Spans History - Paul Daniel Marriott - Apr 5th, 2017
- Public Forum For Lake Park Bridge - Virginia Small - Feb 13th, 2017
- County Closes Lake Park Bridge - Virginia Small - Dec 14th, 2016
- Donor Pledges $1 Million for Lake Park Bridge - Virginia Small - Nov 7th, 2016
- County Faces Issues When Replacing Bridges - Virginia Small - Aug 22nd, 2016
- Lake Park Bridge Faces Thorny Issues - Virginia Small - Jul 29th, 2016
- Can Lake Park Bridge Be Saved? - Virginia Small - Jul 13th, 2016
Read more about Ravine Road Bridge Project here