Sigma steps up for Aaron Trail planning and engineering

Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation and Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources

The Sigma Group was contracted by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) to develop plans for the restoration of approximately 1,000 linear feet of severely eroded and environmentally degraded river bank along the Menomonee River in the City of Milwaukee. Sigma also provided engineering services for the development of plans to naturalize and stabilize the river bank and for the incorporation of a trial along the river bank that will join into the overall Hank Aaron State Trail system.

In 2010, the Hank Aaron State Trail Valley Passage was connected to the near south side neighborhood of Silver City with a bike and pedestrian trail that runs along the north bank of the Menomonee River along Canal Street with a path, tunnel and bridge. From this connecting passage, the trail was extended four miles west along the former CP Rail corridor to 94th Place. This completes over 10 miles of trail linking Milwaukee’s lakefront with neighborhoods and attractions to the west including Miller Park, Harley-Davidson Museum, Veterans Affairs grounds and State Fair Park. Working with the many stakeholders including Menomonee Valley Partners, WDNR, WisDOT, the City of Milwaukee, CP Rail and the Urban Ecology Center, an inclusive community involvement has been critical to the project success.

Services provided by Sigma include:

Natural Resources

Sigma assisted with the preliminary surveying, wetland delineation, archaeological research, natural resources review activities and soil remediation planning activities, associated with the proposed restoration area. Sigma also assisted RACM in the preparation of grant application submittals to fund the overall restoration project.

Due Diligence

Sigma completed Phase I ESAs of the corridor parcels to provide information regarding past site uses and identify potential environmental liabilities associated with planned land disturbing activities.

The assessments provided baseline information and served as a valuable decision-making tool to move forward with property acquisitions and special provisions for construction. The Phase I ESA indicated potential for environmental liability related to former heating oil underground storage tanks (USTs) where residual impacts were identified during UST closure and the presence of fill material. Sigma performed limited Phase 2 site characterization and sampling using its truck-mounted Geoprobe drilling equipment to characterize the fill material to be removed for the bike path and pedestrian passageway.

Site Surveying/Mapping

Sigma was responsible for platting and field surveying involving full topography/DTM/utility locate and establish easements and property boundaries. Sigma conducted a tree survey of natural areas along the Menomonee River banks in advance of slope stabilization. Sigma also prepared the right-of-way exhibit that presents various property legal descriptions, property ownership and supports conveyances. Surveying and platting were prepared in accordance with WisDOT FDM requirements.

Community Involvement

Serving on the multi-discipline design team, Sigma was instrumental in interacting with stakeholders, community groups, neighbors and business to formulate a design that is sensitive to desires and needs. Through the planning and design process, the design team interacted with the stakeholder groups in value engineering forums, public meetings, listening sessions and issue-oriented conferences to address such desires as Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, public safety, sustainable approaches, biking needs, operation and maintenance, and historical integration with the surrounding community.