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Part of Hank Aaron State Trail closes suddenly for State Fair; no notice or safe detour provided

A red sign hanging from the barrier reads: “This section of the Hank Aaron State Trail is closed during State Fair, August 4-14.”
Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 18:16:49-04

WEST ALLIS, Wis. — The many walkers, runners and cyclists who use the Hank Aaron State Trail every day were angry to find a concrete barrier blocking access to the trail at 76th Street Thursday morning.

A red sign hanging from the barrier reads: “This section of the Hank Aaron State Trail is closed during State Fair, August 4-14.”

“Who signed off on this?” asked cyclist Chris Vold. “How could anyone think this would be a good idea?”

One cyclist after another stopped to share their frustration over this. State Fair security officers standing near the barrier told the cyclists they could re-access the trail nearly 20 blocks away.

“They told me it’s best to go to 94th Street,” said cyclist Tom Silbernagel. “That’s ridiculous. That’s quite a distance and puts us in danger, being on regular streets the way people drive.”

“The only refuge we have as bike riders in the city are these trails,” said Vold. “I need to get to 114th Street. I have no idea how to get there safely. Thank God I didn’t bring my 4-year-old son on this ride, or he’d have to ride in traffic with me now.”

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirms it signed off on the trail closure requested by the State Fair Park Board Chairman, for public safety reasons.

State Fair organizers tell TMJ4: “The closure of this section of the trail ensures that we are able to secure the entire perimeter of State Fair Park during the 11-day Wisconsin State Fair.”

The DNR has a message posted on its website that the Hank Aaron Trail will be closed from 76th Street to 84th street through Aug. 14, the duration of the State Fair.

“But you can’t actually access the trail at 84th Street because there’s a bridge there,” said Michelle Kramer, who’s an active member of Friends of The Hank Aaron State Trail. “So really, people must go to at least 92nd Street to reenter the trail safely.”

Kramer says in previous years, State Fair security officers were posted along this portion of the trail.

“They’ve never shut it down with no public notice or safe detour provided,” she said. “I started getting text messages and Facebook messages from trail users asking me what was going on. They were trying to get to work, and the trail was closed. It leaves a lot of people in an unsafe position.”

State Fair security officers at the 76th Street barrier, suggest trail users go south to Greenfield Avenue, then west to 92nd Street to get back on the trail at 94th Street.

“That's nearly two miles on a very busy road, which I wouldn't want to ride on a normal day, much less on a day we have State Fair traffic,” said Kramer.

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