In early 2003, a complaint was filed with the United States Department of Justice, alleging that some sections of Milwaukee's Riverwalk were inaccessible to those with disabilities. In a government review in the summer of 2003, 28 potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were identified that limited access to the Riverwalk for those with disabilities.
The City of Milwaukee, the County of Milwaukee and the Downtown Milwaukee Riverwalk Business Improvement District No. 15 (BID) entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice on July 11, 2006. To ensure the Rivewalk is readily accessible to and usable by people with mobility issues, the City, County and the BID agreed to the following improvements:
- Construct and install ramps, walkways, or lifts in nine locations
- Modify, replace, or install handrails in appropriate locations
- Modify existing curb ramps by grinding down the surface
The Improvement project began construction in the summer of 2007 and the final ramp was completed in January of 2016.