Misconceptions on the Hoan
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Patrick McIlheran recently took a swing at my Hoan Bridge article, Hoan Bridge: Tear Down Another Freeway in Milwaukee?. While getting things wrong about the article, such as missing that I would maintain the highway as a spur out of the Marquette Interchange that would land east of the Milwaukee River, he did manage to get one point spot on.
“… it reduces the Lake Parkway into a conduit useful only for reaching downtown.”
Yes, my plan did take the existing, iconic Hoan Bridge and drop it to the ground as a conduit to downtown. Patrick reports that 2/3′s of the cars on the Hoan Bridge actually use it for just that. That’s 66% of the drivers using it just how I proposed to keep it. With a polling number like that, a referendum among Hoan drivers for my plan looks like it would win in a landslide.
What do the other cars do? Well they possibly go slightly west to Marquette or the Menomonee Valley, or they drive across some of the most expensive real estate in the state to reach Waukesha County. According to Patrick’s stat, that’s 1/3 of the trips across the Hoan and 794 that likely start in a suburb of Milwaukee, go right through downtown Milwaukee, and end up in somewhere west of Milwaukee, like Waukesha County.
Now if you draw a line on a map from Cudahy to Waukesha you’ll notice it doesn’t go through downtown Milwaukee. Also, if you look at a photo of downtown Milwaukee you’ll notice there are big buildings, signifying amongst many other things, that the land is valuable. However, the land immediately adjacent to the freeway is used for parking as the buildings turn their back on the concrete wall. My plan would replace the east-west freeway with a boulevard that would allow this land to be developed similar to the land immediately north and south of it (a large boost the Park East didn’t have). At the same time, my plan would still ensure quick and easy access to downtown jobs.
What my plan didn’t do was maintain the “Milwaukee bypass” that connects the southern suburbs with Waukesha County through downtown Milwaukee. We have some different “suggestions” for that, including extending Interstate 894 east through St. Francis and Cudahy to reach the Lakefront Parkway. That will still maintain what suburban commuters feel is critical freeway access to the western world. I’ll explore possible routes for that in a future article.
Between being paranoid about a roundabout, changing my plans to eliminate the western part of 794 downtown, and spelling my name wrong again (Jeramey, not Jeremy), Patrick makes a few really good points. Sixty-six percent of riders would not have their commute impaired, as the bridge would guide them their ultimate destination. It will be nice for the City of Milwaukee to add to its tax base instead of serve as a bypass (something the Public Policy Forum probably thinks is a good thing after the study they recently released). And my favorite…
“One hates to break it to the urbanists: The center of Milwaukee is not the center of the universe.”
To which my only response can be yes, that’s true, but why are you so determined to have people drive through it then?