In early 2003, a complaint filed by the disability-rights group Independence First, was received by the United States Department of Justice. The complaint alleged that some sections of Milwaukee’s Riverwalk were inaccessible to wheelchair users. In a government review conducted in the summer of 2003, 28 potential violations of the ADA were identified that limited access to the Riverwalk for wheelchair use.
The City of Milwaukee, the County of Milwaukee, and the Milwaukee Business Improvement District No. 15 (BID) entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice on July 11, 2006. The agreement resolved access concerns along the Milwaukee Riverwalk.
Under the agreement, the City, County, and the BID have agreed to: 1) construct and install ramps, walkways, or lifts in several locations (see map) to ensure the Riverwalk is readily accessible to and usable by people with mobility disabilities; 2) modify, replace, or install handrails in appropriate locations; 3) modify built up curb ramps by grinding down the surface in two locations; 4) construct an accessible walkway from a parking lot to an existing ramp; and 5) remove existing ramps and install new gangways to floating docks in three locations.
ADA improvements began in summer of 2007. The City, County and the BID are working to ensure the accessibility issues are addressed in the most effective, long-term manner possible.