Three Bridges Park on Hank Aaron State Trail

Wisconsin Department of Transportation/City of Milwaukee | Milwaukee, WI
Wisconsin DOT - Three Bridges Park

Three Bridges Park has transformed an abandoned brownfield into an urban environmental oasis in the heart of the Menomonee Valley. What was once 24 acres of abandoned industrial rail yard is now a revitalized gathering place for the Milwaukee community, providing a great route for biking, commuter access to local businesses, community gardens, an environmental classroom for 22 neighborhoods and more.

Benesch served as the project lead and was responsible for site layout and design, structural engineering, path geometry and hydraulic analysis. The project includes two new signature pedestrian bridges connecting two miles of new multi-use trail. Construction debris and contaminated soil left behind by industries in the area were safely covered, and the existing fill was reconfigured at the site to develop an interesting topography for the park, including mounds that imitate the natural glacial landforms of Southeast Wisconsin.

To control erosion on the newly transformed land, our design team developed a one-of-a-kind underground stormwater management system made of six individual, rubber-bottomed storage cells that are approximately 2,000 feet long and filled with stones to filter and cool the water. At the downstream end of the cells, an innovative adjustable valve that can be controlled by park managers to regulate the amount of water fed to a nearby swale and a small wetland pond, essentially acting like a natural spring.

The project included the rehabilitation of the Menomonee River to bring it closer to its original form. To do this, large boulders and boulder clusters were brought into the river to break up the currents and carve new bends and pools into the riverbed that would foster fish and other aquatic organism habitats. Therefore, coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was extremely important. Several precautions had to be taken throughout design and construction, including existing stands of protected mature native trees along the river bank.



  • 2014, Mayor's Design Award, City of Milwaukee
  • 2014, Best of State, American Council of Engineering Companies - Wisconsin
  • 2014, National Recognition Award, American Council of Engineering Companies
  • 2013, Project of the Year, Wisconsin Women Transportation Seminar
  • 2013, Top Project of 2013, The Daily Reporter