City Moves Forward on Highway 175
70 trees planted at Lisbon Ave. terminus of old Highway 41.
“This plot has been a challenge for the community for many many years.” So said Mayor Tom Barrett this morning as he and two area alderman surveyed a contractor planting trees at the now city-owned parcel at 4623 W. Lisbon Ave. While the address of the 51,220 square-foot lot is perhaps unremarkable to many, thousands daily encounter the problematic intersection it helps create.
The freeway spur of Wisconsin Highway 175 (long known as U.S. Highway 41) terminates abruptly into W. Lisbon Ave. between N. 46th And N. 47th streets, wrapping both sides of the site. The highway was originally planned to bulldoze a path through the city and connect with the freeway spur that starts at W. Fond du Lac Ave. and N. 68th., but plans for that were dropped decades ago. What’s left is a series of awkward ramps and intersections that the city is now moving to redesign as the freeway itself nears a rebuild.
And this parcel on W. Lisbon Ave. is one of the key pieces in improving the whole area. It was acquired by the city in June 2016 for $270,000 from Faraaz LLC. In October the city began demolition of the 1,768 square-foot building on the land which had most recently housed a clinic, but before that was a bank.
According to Barrett, the city is working with area State Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) to advance plans to rebuild the on-off ramps. The city is currently weighing two options (among a total of four that planners advised): Option One would have the on-off ramps run parallel, terminating at W. Lisbon Ave. and N. 46th St.; and Option Four would have the ramps terminate sooner, at W. Lloyd St. (where they currently begin) with N. 46th. St. becoming a boulevard between W. Lloyd St. and W. Lisbon Ave.
Either plan is intended to improve the flow of traffic and increase pedestrian safety at the busy intersection of W. Lisbon Ave. and W. North Ave., as well allow for increased economic development in the area. Barrett cited the negative economic impacts the array of intersections and ramps have on the area, noting that they reduce the amount of parking in the area and disrupt the street grid.
Because the highway is state-owned, the city is unable to just come up with a plan and implement it. They’ll have to negotiate with the state, primarily the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Acknowledging that reality, Barrett stated “in the long term we know we want to make some change.” The city held public meetings regarding the proposed reconfiguration in November and April, which included narrowing the field of options from four to two. Graham Kilmer covered a recent meeting for Urban Milwaukee.
Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II praised the efforts of area stakeholders so far, noting the project has been “resident driven.” He highlighted the many other projects underway in the area including Tricklebee Cafe, a new distribution center and a new branch of Town Bank. Ann Knoedler, vice president of the Uptown Crossing Neighborhood Association, said “we want to open this and perhaps push [the highway] further south.” Knoelder characterized the former bank as “an eyesore for a long time.”
Ald. Michael Murphy, who represents the west side of the district, was also in attendance and praised the many organizations involved in his brief remarks. Murphy thanked the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, U.S. Department of Forestry, Uptown Crossing Business Improvement District, Washington Heights Neighborhood Association and Uptown Crossing Neighborhood Association
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More about the Highway 175 Redesign
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Moves Forward on Highway 175 - Jeramey Jannene - May 30th, 2017
- Can City Mend Highway 175? - Graham Kilmer - Apr 26th, 2017
- Intersection: Highway 41 and Lisbon Is a Mess - John O’Neill - Jan 27th, 2016