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RACINE — City officials are taking steps to repair erosion along a stretch of the Lake Michigan Pathway that reopened earlier this summer after extensive reconstruction work.

City to repair Lake Michigan Pathway erosion
Rainwater runoff from storms has washed away a soil and sand berm between the Lake Michigan Pathway and a portion of Zoo Beach. The Racine Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services (PRCS) plans to let bids and hire a contractor to repair the damage and address future rainwater runoff. – Credit: Paul Holley

Heavy rains in recent weeks have washed away parts of an earthen berm along a 50-yard section of the paved pathway behind the Racine Zoo. The pathway is stable and remains open, but the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services (PRCS) Department staff has been working with design engineers on repairs and a solution to prevent future erosion, said Tom Molbeck, PRCS director.

“One that was not accounted for was rainwater coming down from the hill along the west side of the path,” he told the Racine County Eye. “Our staff has been working with the engineers over the past three or four weeks to correct that issue and make repairs.”

Fencing has been installed along the east side of the path where rainwater has washed away much of an earth and sand berm that was intended to protect the pathway from Lake Michigan wave action during intense storms.

City to repair Lake Michigan Pathway erosion
Temporary fencing is installed along a 50-yard stretch of the Lake Michigan Pathway where rainwater runoff has washed away portions of a soil and sand berm. The paved pathway is not damaged and remains open for use. – Credit: Paul Holley

Molbeck added that bids will be sought to fill in the washed-out berm area with stone and top it with soil as well as address the rainwater erosion along the west side of the trail starting at about Augusta Street and running to the bottom of the hill.

“We believe we can get a bid out and the job awarded within the next few weeks,” he said.

The Lake Michigan Pathway is very popular with runners, walkers and cyclists. This summer’s recent erosion got the attention of regular users who contacted the Racine County Eye and city offices. Molbeck said the PRCS received “at least a half-dozen” emails and phone calls about the erosion issue.

Reconstruction work

City to repair Lake Michigan Pathway erosion
Rainwater runoff along a portion of the Lake Michigan Pathway behind the Racine Zoo property has created a groove along the west side of the paved path. Plans are under way to address the erosion. – Credit: Paul Holley

The pathway officially reopened in late May after a $1.13 million reconstruction project that repaired damage from a January 2020 winter storm that produced record-high lake levels and high winds.

The work, involving about 1,000 feet of the path in the Zoo Beach vicinity, included removing and stabilizing soil beneath the pathway, stabilizing the bluff behind the zoo property and constructing a concrete access point to allow people with disabilities to more easily reach the beach.

The project was funded with money from the city and a $75,000 Wisconsin Coastal Management Grant. The work started last December and wrapped up in late spring.

About the Lake Michigan Pathway

The Lake Michigan Pathway, which runs about 10 miles along the lakefront, connects to other marked bicycle trails in eastern Racine County. Read more about local cycling opportunities in the Wisco Spotlight Lake Michigan edition.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...