The 6th Street Bicycle Ramp on the Hank Aaron State Trail near downtown Milwaukee is a sophisticated blending of form and function, providing a much-needed connection for bicyclists and pedestrians commuting between home, work, and the many recreational facilities throughout the area. The completed structure features a curved concrete ramp with a trapezoidal cross section on single columns, attractive cable railings and posts and MSE walls under the existing viaduct.
The new ramp connects the west side of the 6th Street viaduct using an ADA-compliant bike ramp, and the east side of the viaduct via a three-level stairway. Prior to the bike ramp’s construction, multiple grade separations, waterways and existing streets broke up the accessible routes for bikes and pedestrians. Now, nearly 400,000 residents, path users and Milwaukee-area commuters can successfully avoid nearly a quarter mile of street sharing in a high-traffic area. Significant efforts to involve the public were made during the very early stages of design to ensure that the greatest value was achieved for the owner and users of the bike ramp and adjoining trail. Stakeholders requested that bike troughs be added to the edges of the stairs to make it easier for bikers to walk their bikes between 6th Street and the Hank Aaron State Trail below. In response, Benesch developed a stair design utilizing wider treads with a shorter riser, making it easier for people to push bikes up and down the stairs using a dedicated bike trough.
The completed 6th Street Bicycle Ramps project is a testament to context-sensitive and stakeholder-driven design. As the newest connection along the Hank Aaron State Trail, it is a welcomed structural addition; its completion signifies another option for Milwaukee’s local neighborhoods and the commuting public alike to enjoy a diverse range of recreational facilities available along the trail.