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Deadly Riptides Prompt Major Overhaul at McKinley Beach

Deadly Riptides Prompt Major Overhaul at McKinley Beach

May 21, 2024 10:37 AM CDT

By: Stuart J. Wattles

MILWAUKEE, Wis (WAUK) — After being closed for nearly four years due to dangerous riptide conditions, McKinley Beach is reopening to the public with a renewed focus on swimmer safety.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and other local officials will hold a grand reopening ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to mark the occasion. The beach along Lincoln Memorial Drive had been closed since August 2020 following several near-drownings and multiple fatal incidents.

The county funded a study to examine the changing conditions at McKinley Beach, which was originally constructed in 1989 as a buffer between Lake Michigan and the shoreline road. Findings showed the water depth had increased by about 4 feet near the breakwater since the beach’s creation, contributing to dangerous currents and riptides.

To address the hazards, the county’s million-dollar renovation project involved replenishing the beach with new sand, regrading the shoreline and lowering water depths between breakwaters to reduce currents.

In preparation for the reopening, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Milwaukee County Parks Department has increased its seasonal lifeguard staffing by 10% to 110 guards.

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