Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Boatworks Redevelopment Project Enhances Oshkosh Riverwalk System

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Boatworks Redevelopment Project Enhances Oshkosh Riverwalk System

Article excerpt

As cities in Wisconsin and across the United States transition away from an industrial past, land use issues become increasingly difficult. This is especially true with contaminated sites that are usually inappropriate for other uses and pose a barrier to redevelopment. Such was the case in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where riverfront property originally designed with barge traffic and chemical usage in mind, was deemed unsuitable for use in today's economy and a severe detriment to a major natural resource.

The global infrastructure firm, AECOM, worked with the city of Oshkosh, as well as environmental and public stakeholders to transform the formerly dilapidated marina into public space for recreational uses. Called the Oshkosh Boatworks Riverwalk/Park Development, this redesigned public asset along the Fox River features a new 575-foot-long pedestrian bridge and an ADA-accessible kayak/canoe launch, along with a shelter/restroom, parking lot and stormwater controls.

Environmentally Difficult Site

In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated the site, a former lumber yard and boat manufacturing location for more than 100 years, as a brownfield. Because of impacts from abandoned buildings and petroleum products, solvents, metals and PCBs in the soil, groundwater and sediments, the entire waterfront area was deemed off limits to the public and considered a nuisance to the surrounding neighborhood. The property is in an area designated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a low-to-moderate income (LMI) census tract.

Redevelopment of the property has begun to play an important part in reversing the HUD designation and restoring the riverfront for all citizens of Oshkosh. The old industrial facilities are being transformed into commercial, residential and retail developments along the riverfront. The Boatworks property and the Riverwalk trail system are spurring this development by helping to revitalize the historic downtown and riverfront areas, adding value and demand to the area while attracting citizens and tourists.

Resolving Design Challenges

The engineering team resolved several design challenges while constructing around the old man-made landfill. Foundations for the bridge and its supporting structures needed to accommodate the impacted soils. Since the bridge itself is pile-supported, preloading and selective undercutting were used to construct the approach embankments to reduce the construction cost and minimize the amount of impacted soils that would need to be landfilled.

A prefabricated, two-span bridge, constructed from weathering steel, was chosen to reduce the construction time and cut costs for the pedestrian bridge. The weathering steel not only matches the aesthetics of a recently constructed Canadian National Railroad (CNR) movable bridge downstream from the Boatworks redevelopment, but also reduces the city's long-term maintenance requirements. For the occupied restroom building, an under-slab passive ventilation system was used to mitigate the potential for methane intrusion into the building, creating a safer environment for occupants.

Multiple Recreational Facilities

The Boatworks project encompasses both onshore and waterfront developments. Onshore development consists primarily of the riverwalk trail system, a picnic area, public restrooms and parking. …

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