Milwaukee’s Downtown Plan 2040 will emphasize pedestrian safety, green infrastructure


As Milwaukee officials work to reimagine the downtown area, they’ve released new details that could be included as part of a forthcoming downtown plan.

That plan, dubbed “Connec+ing MKE – Downtown Plan 2040” is an ongoing joint effort between Milwaukee’s Department of City Development and the downtown Milwaukee Business Improvement District. Those organizations, along with the community, are hoping to guide the next two decades of development, policies and programs that enable a “more walkable, vibrant, diverse, inclusive and resilient downtown,” according to the Milwaukee Downtown website.

Downtown Plan 2040 serves as an update to the 2010 Downtown Area Plan. That 2010 plan included transformational projects like the Deer District and developing the downtown lakefront.

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In a November BizTimes Media cover story, DCD Commissioner Lafayette Crump said Downtown Plan 2040 would likely make recommendations for a “fairly radical transformation of downtown streets.” He mentioned streets being designed for slower traffic speeds and more pedestrian friendly.

Wednesday’s newly released details included a list of “big ideas” that summarized the major themes of Downtown Plan 2040. Those ideas included doubling the downtown population, redesigning streets to enhance walkability and access for bicyclists, a possible streetcar extension, investing in parks and public spaces, and the use of green infrastructure.

A series of conceptual renderings were also released. Those renderings included a redesign of Cathedral Square, a revamp of Kilbourn Avenue to include amenities like protected bike lanes and widened sidewalks, and a new design for Water Street that features a narrower road and enhanced pedestrian crossings.

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“The final list of specific priority projects is yet to be determined and will be developed based on the feedback at the third meeting, as well as past meetings and online engagement,” according to a statement from the Department of City Development.

A community open house focused on Downtown Plan 2040 is scheduled for this evening from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 3rd Street Market Hall. This will be the third of four public meetings. City officials will begin drafting Downtown Plan 2040 after this third meeting. They hope to have the draft ready next spring.

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