A newly funded project in Milwaukee hopes to kick start a community driven trail development process with neighborhoods along the 30th Street Corridor.
The Catena Foundation gave a $200,000 grant to the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corporation, Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, Near West Side Partners, and Havenwoods Neighborhood Partnership. The four organizations also received support from the Rails to Trails Conservancy.
Leaders with the project say it's part of the next phase in developing a shared-use trail next to a 7.25-mile rail line that runs north from the Hank Aaron State Trail to Havenwoods State Park.
Cheryl Blue, executive director of the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corporation says the rail line used to play an important role in Milwaukee's economy.
"We see the equitable trail-development process for a world-class linear park as an opportunity for us to come together to create a new vision for the corridor, which is currently plagued with serious challenges," Blue says. "The only way for us to change that is to build a new and better reality — with and for all the wonderful people and businesses here."
Milwaukee is one of the most racially segregated cities in the US, and leaders with the trail development project say that's resulted in an infrastructure system with plenty of trail and transportation disparities. A Rails-to-Trails study found that Milwaukee's most disinvested communities had the least access to walking and biking infrastructure. Right now, I-94 and I-43 create a barrier for residents on the northwest side, but connected trails could offer a solution. The 30th Street Corridor Project and one other have the potential to create new walking and biking access for more than 200,000 people.
The proposed shared-use trail would connect residents on the Northwest side to the regional Route of the Badger trail network, which would expand opportunities for Milwaukeeans to walk and bike safely.
"A recent preliminary feasibility study determined that a 30th Street Corridor shared-use trail is the most important trail investment the city could make because it would create more equitable trail access for all residents," says Willie Karidis, Rails-to-Trails' project manager for the Route of the Badger Trail Network. "Community led planning work along the corridor is the next step to making this a reality. It can serve as a national model for other cities across the country that are tackling the redevelopment of infrastructure that currently segregates residents from jobs, schools, recreation, and transportation opportunities."