Jeramey Jannene

Seven Reasons To Replace The Hoan Bridge

By - Sep 2nd, 2008 01:16 pm
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Both the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Business Journal of Milwaukee have covered the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s announcement that they’re examining options for the future of the Hoan Bridge as the day nears when it will need costly repairs. We thought it was time to weigh in.

The Journal Sentinel article leads off by saying the idea has “crashed and burned” because the mayors of St. Francis and Cudahy like the bridge. Which is all well and good, except last I checked the bridge is in Milwaukee so perhaps talking to Milwaukee elected officials would have been a good idea? Being an interstate, it is state-owned, but to deny Milwaukeeans a comment on the issue is a little too much.

A critical aspect of the discussion that the Journal Sentinel article ignored was that any proposal will not simply include tearing down the bridge. It will include replacing the bridge. Certainly simply removing the bridge would be a fiasco, replacing it does not have to be if street-level lift bridges are placed at the right points.

We have come up with seven good reasons to replace the bridge with a street grid system.

1. The bridge does not generate economic development along the land it runs, a replacement that was integrated with the city street grid would. The increased traffic would be great for businesses, both existing and new. The increased accessibility would further encourage more residential development in the area.

2. The bridge is going to be costly to repair, and will continue to cost taxpayers money in the future. Replacing it with a street grid based system will be more cost-effective both now and in the future.

3. The bridge is a risk for MMSD. This reality was driven home in 2000 when the bridge partially collapsed directly above MMSD’s Jones Island facility (the end destination of your toilet).

The Hoan Bridge was the site of a near disaster in December 2000 after two of three support beams failed, causing nearly 200 feet along the northbound lanes to buckle and sag by three to four feet. It left the span in a near collapsed state. In late December 2000, demolition experts used explosives to remove damaged sections of the bridge that crossed over the MMSD’s Jones Island treatment plant.

“We were genuinely concerned it was going to fall on critical conduits of the MMSD plant, cutting off electricity to our facility,” Kevin Shafer said.

The DOT spent more than $16 million to demolish and rebuild the damaged area before the Hoan Bridge reopened for traffic in November 2001.

4. Never the “Bridge To Nowhere” ever again. While the bridge was built and left unconnected for a number of years early in its life, it was also closed for almost an entire year in 2001 following the partial collapse. Replacing the bridge with the street grid will give drivers options in the event of one road closing.

5. Replacing the bridge will still leverage existing assets like the Lake Parkway, but will also allow easier access to areas like Walker’s Point/Fifth Ward and the south side of the Third Ward. At the same time synchronized lights should make getting downtown just as easy.

6. We’ve done this before, and have been largely successful. The conversion of the Park East Freeway, an elevated freeway on the north side of downtown, was a huge success when you look at traffic flow. It’s just as easy to get down McKinley Avenue as it was to get down the freeway. We can apply the same principles from the Park East Freeway freeway-to-boulevard conversion to the Hoan Bridge.

7. The Hoan Bridge is currently inaccessible for bicyclists and pedestrians. Any replacement will presumably serve both of those groups better, as well as being better for mass transit riders. Currently riding the bus over the bridge may be a pleasure, unless you need to get to somewhere in the middle where you are forced to back track. A street grid solution will allow riders to get to more locations much more easily.

Categories: Real Estate

74 thoughts on “Seven Reasons To Replace The Hoan Bridge”

  1. Anne says:

    While I initially cringed when I read this in the JS, I totally agree with number 7. Living in Bay View, I’ve often thought how nice it would be to ride my bike or jog over the 2.5 mile expanse to downtown. But I’ve heard people suggest we may not need to tear it down at all — that adding a bike lane might help solve the issue. And another great point is that unless you are going the entire distance to downtown, don’t bother taking the Hoan – you’re trapped here or there. Not that you’d want to be trapped in between at the MMSD, but still.

  2. Michael Connor says:

    That’s actually a really awesome mock-up map idea there.

  3. FJV says:

    Great policy analysis, and good in theory, but IMHO ignores the reality of the situation: the Hoan Bridge is strictly a utilitarian through way for people to get from Bay View and the south shore communities expeditiously into the downtown area and points beyond. The areas that the bridge/freeway currently pass over do not lend themselves increased development due to the extensive port and MMSD activities, and as a Bay View resident, I wouldn’t be too excited about having tons of surface street traffic backing up in the neighborhood every morning (not to mention the extended commuting times).

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @FJC Beyond Bay View, a rerouting of traffic could be a boom for Walker’s Point and allows for some interesting possibilities for the Third Ward. State Park and/or new development.

  5. Joel says:

    joe klein – thats not to bad, but i would have to recommend as long as the route would stay at least a parkway with a more controlled access and the 45 mph speed limit. But i just think that there is always the possibility of extending state794 even further south to lets say racine, which would obviously bring more traffic, thus keeping the need for a higher capacity structure/roadway…a good lookin bridge. I have also always thought that I-794 could be tunneled from the marquette interchange to state794 which would open the land for development, and of course the only downside is cost(cant stand that excuse, is there no such thing as investment anymore?)

  6. Paul Theis says:

    I agree that the concerns expressed in the editorial were not very convincing, and I like the development possibilities that a rerouting would likely bring. As I recall, former Journal Sentinel urban landscape columnist Whitney Gould once proposed the idea of a design competition to replace the Hoan bridge, already anticipating the necessity of someday replacing the bridge with something lower and less costly. (What would Calatrava do?) I have to applaud Transportation Secretary Busalacchi for raising the issue now, knowing it would be controversial.

    (In the meantime, can’t we — somebody … the city of Milwaukee? — get a webcam up on the Hoan Bridge, showing off that prized view of the Milwaukee skyline from the South?)

  7. Dan says:

    Let’s not forget the aesthetic value. How would looking west from the lake look with the bridge gone? An eye sore.

  8. JOSE says:

    Hello am just writing this because am not agree with that stuped idea of tearing down the hoan bridge whats wrong you cant destroy a part of our beautiful city. The bridge means a lot to us and the city. Its more than a bridge is a landmark thats represents milwaukee is a symbol of our city you cant destroyed it is one of the most beautiful parts of milwaukee. Am not agree with that and i know a lot of people share my idea you are crazies come on find solutions but without destroying milwaukee because thats what are you going to do if you tear down the brigde you are going to destroy milwaukee and its beautiful lakefront

    NOTE [This comment was edited because it was in all CAPS]

  9. Dave Reid says:

    Jose I do know people like to look at the bridge from a distance. But, walk around underneath the bridge, or all of the connecting ramps. It is anything but beautiful. The ramps and elevated sections blight much of the surrounding area leaving them only useful as parking lots. Again anything but beautiful. A big part of lowering the Hoan is that it will in fact better connect the city to the Lake Front. Enhancing the cities beauty to those who actually live in it, not just drive by.

  10. tt says:

    Some of us work at the Port and know what’s really behind this. Let’s tear down the bridge, get rid of the businesses on the island, and put up condos and stores paying minimum wage. Do any of you people actually consider the jobs and families your going to disrupt. The Port of Milwaukee is a great port in the way it’s set up to receive goods by rail, ship, or pipeline. Eliminating these services will increase the cost of bringing these goods to the Milwaukee market. Don’t worry about our jobs though….I wouldn’t want to disrupt bicycle traffic or someones view of the lake.

  11. Dave Reid says:

    @tt Nobody wants to get rid of the port, that would be a very bad idea. Reconfiguring and lowering the Hoan can be done without impacting traffic at the port, and can open up land for redevelopment in the Third Ward, and downtown Milwaukee.

  12. Roy Williams says:

    If the Hoan will be replaced with another bridge id say tear it down!

  13. Dave Reid says:

    @Roy yes the idea is to rebuild it lower so that when it enters downtown it could connect to the street grid, and allow for the removal of many needless ramps. The impact of this would be to open up new land in the Third Ward/Downtown that is near the lake to redevelopment. i.e. this could be a big boost to the future tax base, which is good for all of Milwaukee.

  14. Jerry says:

    OK, here’s something to chew on. If you lower the bridge, you disrupt the commercial shipping lane and cause car traffic backups with the repeated raising of drawbridges. As far as a bike lane or pedestrian lane, two things here.
    First – this is a federally designated Interstate highway, such lanes are unlawful, secondly – have you ever had your car blown around on the bridge? Imagine that on a bike 200 feet above the ground.
    As far as some of the other things brought up here all I can say is ‘are you kidding me?’ Some of the areas under the bridge and the approach are anything but beautiful? Give me a break. Come up with a better argument. Replace the bridge and raise it even higher.
    People have been riding their bikes elsewhere for years, don’t think it will kill anyone to ride someplace else. Do you know what ramifications would come with removal? Increased traffic on the already crowded 43/94 corridor, massive backups during the warmer months to raise and lower the drawbridges necessary do support shipping.
    The freeway system in Milwaukee was never finished, much to the city’s detriment. While shops and condos are nice looking and all, freeways and shipping corridors are necessary for commerce which is the lifeblood of the city. No sense in building all this stuff and tearing down arteries if no one has jobs to buy the condos and shop at the cute shops.
    Think about it.

  15. Dave Reid says:

    @Jerry “The Federal Yukon is one of about 270 such vessels that annually connects Milwaukee to more than two dozen countries. Beyond that are also 447 barges” – From Milwaukee Magazine

    That sounds like 700 ships might be impacted by lowering the Hoan, so what 2 (or 3 if only weekdays) a day? That looks to me like it would rarely require opening the bridge, thus not significantly impacting either port traffic, or automobile traffic as the bridge would still be high enough that it wouldn’t open for smaller boats like the other bridges on the river.

    Further the point isn’t that this should be done to make the area “pretty.” It should be done because the blighting impact of the bridge and associated ramps negatively impacts property values, and discourages investment. With its lowering and removal of some connecting ramps, land that currently is not attractive to new development, and hasn’t been for decades, all of a sudden becomes some of the most prime land in the city (Third Ward/Downtown).

    PS commutes times in Milwaukee are very low, and even with this change times will remain very good.

  16. Matthew says:

    The bridge would be lowered to something like 50 feet above the water which is still high enough for 95% of the shipping traffic to go beneath it without it needing to be raised. For the remaining 5% there would be time restrictions to minimize traffic impacts aka bridge wont raise during rush hour, but at the same time a lot of that 5 percent could also be served by using the outer harbor for loading and unloading.
    By lowering the bridge we can greatly reduce the number of miles of raised roadways which would keeps costs down, and we can tie the bridge into the existing infrastructure better which will increase usage while offering additional amenities such as bike lanes.
    When it costs $200 million dollars just to resurface and paint a bridge we need to explore alternatives and if it is true that we can tear down and build a brand new bridge that will save us money we need to explore the alternatives. We cannot afford all the highway projects that people are currently demanding. We have a multi-billion dollar highway expansion that we just started, a multi-billion dollar interchange planned, and hundreds of other small projects that are draining our state of money we don’t have.

  17. Dave Reid says:

    @Matthew Well said.

  18. Dan says:

    Unfortunately, there is no money as America is burning from the CDO-based Ponzi scheme, the largest scam ever! Hwy 94 to suffices to get to Bayview now since America needs to recover by paying down debt and encouraging commerce by eliminating payroll tax, lowering 2nd highest C-Corp taxes in the world, and encouring young foreigners across the skill spectrum to help pay for the pay-as-you-go system. Don’t fear about immigrants taking jobs because they buy stuff too! This country was founded on immigration for more than 150 years that worked well.

  19. KOJAK says:

    I am not a fan of summerfest, but what will happen to summer fest if there is an at grade roadway in-place of the bridge?

  20. JOSE says:


  21. Dave Reid says:

    @KOJAK This is a very good point. I’ve been doing a little research on the impacts to Summerfest, and you’re right this could be the problem with the idea…

  22. Dave Reid says:

    @JOSE turn off the caps lock

  23. Rob says:

    Re: Summerfest, perhaps the example set by Lakeshore Drive in Chicago near Grant Park would be appropriate? The highway turns into a local road once it reaches downtown, then reverts back to a highway after it passes Soldier Field.
    Google Map’s street view of Lakeshore Drive

    Also, I find it frustrating that no one arguing against the study knows how many ships that pass under the bridge would be impacted by a lower height. Isn’t that one of the things that a study would help clear up?

  24. Kevin says:

    The Hoan Bridge is arguably the face of Milwaukee. It is almost like the St.Louis Arch, but in our case, the Gateway to Beer. Joe Klein’s model map is a really good idea that I didn’t even think about. The only problem with that, is the congestion. In addition to his idea, maybe a new, lower bridge would be needed to get people to work faster. I would hate to sit through the stop lights that would be need on the west side of the harbor. A causeway, similiar to the one pictured here:, would be interesting. Of course, there isn’t that much water surrounding the Hoan, but that general idea, would be nice. Joe’s idea would also benefit to both users. If you don’t like the bridge, take the west harbor route, if you don’t like stop lights or the bridge, find an alternative. The I-74 lift bridge in Wilmington, NC is a prime example that would look nice in Milwaukee. The bridge is pictured here: The road would remain on the surface level, until the approach for the bridge would be needed. A causeway would lead to the approach, which would lead to the lift bridge, then would go back down to surface level. This bridge would still maintain the 40′-50′ above water level.

  25. Kevin says:

    Joe’s “West Harbor Parkway” idea could be a continuation of the current Airport Parkway. It would maintain the same steady stream of a slower expressway, without any stop lights.I like the roundabout idea, but it would need to be a controlled round a bout. With the speeds I see many people traveling at on the parkway, I feel like a massive pile up may occur if there isn’t a stoplight. If a raised bridge AND a West Harbor parkway were created, a raised roundabout, like the one pictured here: should be installed.

  26. Ces says:

    How about we paint it WHITE to match the calatrava and the 6th St bridge downtown? kinda like this:


  27. Jeramey Jannene says:


    I don’t know that painting the bridge will generate any less resistance, but it’s an interesting idea. Something that a new bridge that looked more like the 6th Street Viaduct would seamlessly provide.

  28. guy says:

    This idea sounds very interesting. The problem though is first of all instead of using the bridge we will have to take kinickinick ave. for a while. second is that this bridge is 2 miles long and where will we get all the money for this. But the upside is better traffic flow and you could actually exit off one of the side streets. I think i like this idea.

  29. JOSE says:

    hey i see you have new ideas for the bridge thats good, that you care about our city, i heard in the news they have to make the decision soon, because time its running out. so here i am again. you know the hoan bridge is for our city what’s the golden gate for san francisco and the brooklyn brigde for new york. its the face of milwaukee and part of our beautiful downtown the idea about paint it white is not bad it would be something new and nice for the lakefront you know last night like at 500 am i was driving over the bridge and i stop on the middle of the bridge arch the view was beautiful the light on the sky the lake and i was thinking what is this crazy people thinking when they said lets tear it down? i dont find any answer. i saw the bridge at 500 am its was beautiful i dont want to think they going to destroyed, think about what am saying what future milwaukee is going to have without the hoan? no body comment about my idea of the skydeck on the usa bank center, dont ypu like the idea? i think it will be nice to have our skydeck i have been on the last floor of the buildind and the view to the city is beautiful think about that and leave me come comments about my idea. well about the bridge theyre making the decision fast so we have to encorauge more in our goal of leaving the bridge on its place where it belongs on our beautiful lakefront on lake michigan.

  30. Dave Reid says:

    @Jose The Hoan just isn’t the Golden Gate bridge. There are likely hundreds of bridges just like it around the country. That said even if the Hoan was brought down a new bridge would go in its place. Just lower, so that it could come to ground and encourage redevelopment in the Third Ward.

    As far as a observation deck or whatever in the US Bank building. The top floor is law offices, and I’m guessing they aren’t going anywhere. Great view from up there though, search the site we have photos from there.

  31. kojack says:

    @ Reid and Jose
    The Hoan Bridge and Summer-fest is what is destroying the development of the Third Ward / Downtown area. The bridge and Summer-Fest ended up working hand in hand because the bridge (viaduct bridge approach) created un-developable land which gave the possibility for parking to Summer-fest. If the bridge were to be removed, it would slowly end summerfest since the area would be developed and would remove the mass parking for it.

    My overall opinion of The Third Ward, is that the I-794 (From I-94 to the Hoan Bridge) has ruined the city by creating a boundary between downtown and the Third Ward. By the way, I am orginally from chicago.

    When a Chicagoan makes a comment that Summer-Fest and the Hoan Bridge screws up Downtown Milwaukee and The Third Ward, they usually get a weird look back. I always felt that Summer-Fest should move to the Fifth Ward on the other side of the Milwaukee River to promote some new development if done correctlly.

  32. JOSE says:

    the hoan bridge and the I794 they”re not waste of space what are talking about? it is not waste of space, land and anything like that. Its a interstate that is necesary on our city, leave the bridge in peace.
    thank you for the beautiful pictures. but i am not agree with the comments on this pics on the flirck site. why you said is waste of space, what, you want to build more condos, aparments? came on our city doesnt need more condos o apartments. build more condons or apartment buildings on dowtown, there is where the space needs to be full in downtown, not on the interstate 794. that freeways has very good position along the milwaukee’s tallest buldings dont destroy that beautiful view of our city a,olong the freeway fix the bridge and make it higher, not lower, higher.

  33. Michael James says:

    The Hone Bridge looks alright… but I bet a new bridge could be far more architecturally enticing. I don’t know how a lower bridge would affect shipping / traffic, but if the effects are minimal, it seems there may be great value in removing the raised portions of the bridge in the Third Ward / Bay View.

    Many have commented on how the elevated freeway in the Third Ward prevents development there. Looking at aerial photos, this definitely seems to be the case. However, Kojac commented on how if this area was developed, the parking for Summerfest would be gone… and this would be problematic. I don’t think Milwaukee would ever move Summerfest to the 5th ward (although there does seem to be space), so how can the bridge be lowered, the area be developed, and the city not loose a large portion of the Summerfest parking?

    How about a large three or four story parking structure (maybe one story underground) at the southern most part of the 3rd Ward (with a public park/green roof on top of course)? I assume major development would not happen so close to Jones Island anyway. Summerfest could remain, there would still be parking, and this would free a huge amount of space for development (honestly though, I’m picturing a Park East scenario with lots of empty space for many many years)… Milwaukee has so much room to grow.

    I also agree with Kojack about 794 creating a division downtown. Maybe there’s a way to fix that too.

  34. KOJACK says:

    @Michael James

    “I assume major development would not happen so close to Jones Island anyway.”

    Harbor Front and Hansen’s Landing are two developments close to jones Island. The wind plays a big role in that.

  35. JOSE says:

    am just asking for help please help us to save the hoan bridge. milwaukee is the only city i know that wants to tear down bridges and roads. do you think this is good for our city? be the only one that destroys itself, i dont think that is good. please save the bridge and the interstate 794 and build not destroy our city.

  36. Dave Reid says:

    Here is a pretty long list of other U.S. cities debating/considering freeway removal:
    San Francisco has removed freeways in the past to huge success, as has Portland, OR, and one of the most famous is Seoul South Korea.

    Of course what we’d propose would remove the flyover ramps, lower the bridge, and bring the bridge to ground earlier. Which again would open up the Third Ward to downtown.

  37. Tom says:

    I want to know where all the money will come from to tear down and redevelope the Hoan.
    If you want land value to increase to the levels talked about, you have to move the Port,
    the Miloganite Plant, and the treatment plant.
    And do we really need more candos. I have heard rates as high as 40% empty between
    the ones in the 3rd Ward and Downtown. What about those developers? There losing
    their shirts as it is.
    794 should be finished as it was originally intended. Taker a look at a Waukegan map.
    You can see where the Illinois part of the project ended. We could be connected to
    that beautiful Lake shore drive if we do know what should have been done 35 years ago.
    We need more commerce, not more shops and Condos. Who is going to have the
    money to spend at these shops or buy the condos if we take away our means of commerce.
    Spend the money to extend 794 rather then moving the port and the treatment plant.

    And will someone please dig down under the bridge and those parking lots so we can
    see how contaminated the soil is. If clean up is needed this may all be a mute point
    anyway, as new development would not be allowed.

  38. Dave Reid says:

    @Tom Nobody is planning on moving the port, or the water treatment plant. Further, “794 should be finished as it was originally intended” and destroy more of Milwaukee’s lakefront? no I don’t think so, or bulldoze more homes and businesses going south no. I-94 is about to be expanded, possibly with 2 additional lanes, which will provide plenty of capacity.

    And yes we do need more condos (or apartments but generally mixed-use), when the market returns. The top 10 condo projects in the 3rd district pay more in taxes than two aldermanic districts. Pretty significant. Those developments help the entire city.

    Finally, The area we are discussing to redevelop by reconfiguring the Hoan, it may be possible to remove the connecting ramps without touching the actual bridge, is likely a brownfield yes. Of course so is most every lot in the Third Ward, and right now Jackson Square Apartments, and Corcoron Lofts are under construction so this again isn’t going to be a hurdle that can’t be overcome.

  39. Tom says:

    Thanks for the quick response.
    So you expect over a billion dollars worth of development to happen if the Port and the
    the treatment plant remain?
    Do you drive on the Hoan bridge?
    The treatment plant smells and I am sure new condo owners will love large piles of
    coal and salt out their windows.

    What will happen with Summerfest? You are talking about taking away a good portion
    of their parking. Will the new residents of the area enjoy all the extra cars parked on
    their streets most of the summer. I sure think moving summerfest off the lake
    will greatly lower its appeal.

    We haven’t talked about North Siders that use the Hoan to get to the airport.

    The 2035 regional planning study showed the Hoan is a vital part of our future
    transportation needs.

    For this redevelopment to happen and greatly increase property values, we need
    a big upturn in the economy. Wouldn’t a better economy mean more commerce,
    more people working downtown, more traffic. The freeway is gone, where do we put
    this increased traffic. Isn’t it nice to drive on a road that is not at capacity. Do we really
    want to make 94 worse. Where will you put a new freeway to downtown when it
    is needed. 94 and your new boulavard will only be so expandable.

    I have no problem with doing studies on alternatives to the Hoan bridge. I just don’t
    want them to be paid for with my tax dollars. Not in this economy.
    DO we really want to spend millions of tax dollars just to make the land attractive.
    Are we going to have to pay for decontamination too?
    We opened up all that land north of the Bradley Center and it sits empty.

    We are anti-business in Wisconsin/Milwaukee as it is. Lets not make it harder
    for goods to get around Milwaukee.

    The 794(lake Parkway in case you are confused) extention is no where near the lake.
    Most of the original right of way is still there. Minimal housing and busineses
    would be affected. But it would greatly affect the econmy by increasing access
    and commerce all over Milwaukee County if not all of southeastern Wisconsin.

  40. Tom says:

    One more thing,
    I have a feeling this litte redevelopment could lower property values all over
    the South Shore(South Milwaukee, Cudahy, St. Francis, Bay View).
    I also think all the Condos on the North and East side could take a
    hit thanks to a decreased demand.

  41. Dave Reid says:

    @Tom This article more closely spells out what we think should be done:article.

    As it explains the development wouldn’t occur near the sewage plant (though very very expensive condos are just across the river from it), the new development could be close to downtown/lakefront in the Third Ward. This land is different than the Park East as it is prime land i.e. near the lakefront in the Third Ward.

    Summerfest, is a concern though not because of parking. Clearly, though this must be done in such a way that allows Summerfest to continue on the lakefront.

    As far as parking. Surface parking lots blight an area as do freeways (note the gap of generally no development along this stretch of 794), and should be developed. New developments could include garages (if not residential these garages would be generally open at peak Summerfest times).

  42. Tom says:

    You are still not addressing the economy and who can afford the condos or
    to spend money in these new shops.

    Economic growth will not happen if we dismantal transportation infrastructure.
    Thr freeway was put there in the first place because thanks to the Port and the
    treatment plant, the land would not reach a higher value.
    And if your goal is economic growth, the region will need another southbound
    freeway out of downtown with good access to the airport. Knock down 794
    and where is this freeway going to go?

  43. Dave Reid says:

    @Tom San Francisco, Portland, Seoul to name a couple have removed very very significant parts of their freeway systems, and have grown, not declined as a result.

    As far as congestion, average commute times in Southeast Wisconsin are 20 minutes or less (actually declined after the Park East removal) so congestion is just not an issue. Oddly it is adding capacity that often increases congestion… more people drive further (induced demand).

    But in fact most of the bridge and freeway/roadway would remain, in a lowered or in place, reconfiguration. So travel time to and from downtown would likely be unchanged or barely impacted.

  44. Dave Reid says:

    Just a note.. We had a server crash last night, so I believe some comments from this thread were lost….

  45. Mike says:

    The issue is that leaders need to plan 10, 30, 50 even 100 years down the road for infrastructure. Transportation is essential to the South shore and they need to plan on extending 794 and to keep traffic moving quickly to keep development moving forward for the long run. Eventually the entire South shore will be developed all the way to Chicago, this is the future. Converting a good system to a bottleneck is a ridicules idea and very shortsighted.

    The people that want to develop the port area are looking at the very short run, 5 to 10 years to pad their own pockets while they are alive and get as much money as they can for personal gain. What other reason could there be for torpedoing the future of commerce?

    They are claiming that a Boulevard system with roundabouts and a draw bridge will only add 1 to 6 minutes to a commute, that is simply not true. It would be going back in time. No city takes out a high rise bridge to go back to surface transport, it makes no sense. The idea is to move traffic more efficiently, removing this bridge would do the reverse of that.

  46. Dave Reid says:

    @Mike In fact there are other examples of cities removing freeways and such to improve the city. San Francisco has removed Embarcadero, and the Central Freeway to great success, and without gridlock.. Portland, and Seoul are a couple of other examples. And again no matter what happens there will still be a bridge connecting downtown to the south side

  47. Joel says:

    If the Hoan is removed, does anyone think the metal arch part would be saved and refurbished as some sort of artistic piece placed in a park somewhere, or nearby?

  48. Tom says:

    Dave, do you travel the Hoan?
    If yes, how often?

    We are talking clear sailing from the east end of layton ave. to I43.
    And now you want to change that to round abouts and stop lights and try
    to claim it will only add 1-5 minutes.

    Did you ever travel the 794 before the lake parkway. That parkway saves people
    from the south shore 7-10 minutes on trips downtown compared to when we had
    to use south shore drive.

    The 2035 transportation study stated that by 2035 the Hoan would be at capacity
    in its current configuration. How is a 4 lane parkway going to handle what a 6 lane
    freeway will do at capacity?

    San Fran and Soel are way larger then Milwaukee and have much larger freeway
    systems. Those systems can accomidate haveing parts removed.
    We have a very small system. You remove portions, there are few alternatives.

    Our economy needs commerce. Extending the lake parkway(794)could add commerce.
    If the hoan bridge might not be big enough by 2035 without the extention, how will a parkway
    handle the added traffic of that extention. People living in Eastern Racine county would
    love that extention. But its useless without the Hoan Bridge.

  49. Dave Reid says:

    I do travel the Hoan, albeit not too often anymore, but it has never been very busy when I’ve driven it. I generally take it from downtown to the airport. Incidentally, I can take the city streets (do sometimes) and the time is just a couple of minutes longer.

    The traffic counts on the Hoan have been flat or in decline over the past decade so the 2035 numbers are questionable to begin with. Then as proven in cities such as San Fran, Seoul, Portland, Toronto, and right here in Milwaukee that congestion doesn’t necessarily get worse with a freeway removal (in fact congestion decrease after removing the PE). But once again the route would still exist, just in a different configuration.

    Finally cities considering freeway removal right now:
    Rochester, NY
    Trenton, NJ
    Akron, OH
    Washington, DC
    Cleveland, OH
    New Orleans, LA
    Nashville, TN
    New Haven, CT
    Montreal, Quebec
    Tokyo, Japan
    Sidney, Australia
    Baltimore, MD
    Seattle, WA
    Bronx, NY
    Buffalo, NY
    Hartford, CT
    Syracuse, NY
    Louisville, KY
    Portland, OR

  50. Dave Reid says:

    @Joel interesting idea.

  51. Joel says:

    hey perhaps the metal arch could actually be incorporated into a part of the new smaller structure through some modifications.

    I believe if this reconstruction happens, it isn’t like the road will go from freeway to 10 intersections. It seems the amount of intersections will be very limited. Besides, Tom, you just said it yourself that Milwaukee is small. Why should this small city EXPAND a freeway, an underused freeway nonetheless. Then you mention 20, 30, 50 years in the future, by then we should have alternative modes of transportation. Can you guess how expensive fuel is going to be?? Milwaukee has a north-south freeway, it doesn’t need 2, and never will. Milwaukee needs alternatives.

  52. Tom says:

    Expansion will add commerce.
    The last thing this area needs is more condos in a bad(oversaturated) housing
    We need to expand our economy before we talk of opening more shopping areas.
    Who is going to have the money to shop.

    Isn’t it nice to have options when traveling south. DO you really want to see how bad
    94 can be if we eliminate 794.
    We have 2 options when traveling north, why not south.

    94 has lanes being closed now for maintenance. The backups will only be worse
    without another southside freeway option.

    I like the idea of a rail transit system. If we add one, that does not make the Hoan
    expendable. And what if the rail doesn’t happen and we tear down the Hoan.
    Then what.

    This is short sighted. Yes Milwaukee will see a possible short term increase in
    the property tax base. But will more condos and shops increase our overall economy.
    Enough to see this new area work, as well as the ones that already exist.
    This new area will be trendy, but what of the older, once trendy areas. Will their
    value increase when everyone wants to go to the new third ward.

  53. Dave Reid says:

    By the time the Hoan is lowered, or just landed earlier, will be many years down the road by then the economy will surely be on the upswing (if it isn’t already – note DOW 9500 predicting this, and real estate sales nationally bottoming in July). At that point adding density to the city’s core will certainly be desirable. Specifically in Third Ward and downtown area because they pay so much more in taxes that helps everyone in the city. Evidence of this is that the top 10 condo developments in the 3rd district (Third Ward, downtown) pay represents more tax base than two Aldermanic districts, and clearly use significantly less in services. And again there will still be a connection to the south.

  54. Mike says:

    I seriously doubt you will find one single person that uses the bridge in favor of removing it, unless they are one of the few who will have their pockets lined in some way. Why don’t we let this rest until all the great new development in the Park East corridor is done, and all the condos on the river are sold, and all the condos in St. Francis are sold.

  55. Rob says:

    Sorry, Mike. That’s not true at all.

    I’m not benefiting financially in any way whatsoever from the readjustment of the Hoan Bridge, but I fully support tearing it down. I lived within blocks of the Port of Milwaukee entrance in Bay View, but I would normally take KK north to downtown because it’s not that big of a difference time-wise between the two. There would still be a bridge — everyone who keeps harping on that distortion needs to calm down.

  56. Kevin says:

    I used the Hoan on a daily basis. I am not rich. I want to see a new unique bridge built.

    Why put a band aid on a bad knee; when you can have knee surgery and make a new knee?

    Band Aid = deck resurface and paint
    Surgery = New Bridge.

  57. Steve says:

    If they want to remove it now, Why din’t they just remove the whole I-794 before the lake parkway was built and before the market interchange was rebuilt?
    I would think that the repair would be cheeper then the demolition and a new bridge.
    The land under the bridge is worthless. There is a swerege district and a port. When ever I drive over the bridge it smell like shit. I don’t think that any body would want to live in a place where it smells like shit.

  58. Dave Reid says:

    @Steve the land in the Third Ward under the Hoan is not worthless, in fact it would likely be some of these most expensive land in Wisconsin if it wasn’t for freeway ramps and such. Specifically the land closest to the Lake Interchange would be very very desirable.

  59. Frank says:

    I am not a big fan of the way the bridge looks, but let’s get real. How much development are you going to get next to the MMSD. Who would buy a condo that smells like crap? Who will shop and ride there bike in that smell next to piles of coal and salt. If you take down the bridge you disrupt car and port traffic. Drive down KK and see for yourself, the bridge is not the problem. The city needs a place for a port, for salt, for coal and for factories. The bridge does a great job of getting you over all that. If you need to go some ware in-between or by bike use KK, I have done it a dozen times. A new road two or three blocks east of KK would not be better in fact with all the traffic it would be much much worse.

  60. Dave Reid says:

    @Frank Ummmm we don’t believe the land of value is near the port. We are talking about land in the Third Ward close to the US Bank, which btw is the most valuable land in Wisconsin. Even with minimum heights such as 6 stories we are talking about 500,000 sq feet of prime Third Ward/Downtown land.

  61. Rick Thrun says:

    My wife and I recently bought a condo in the Third Ward. Part of it’s attraction and certainly it’s value is that that we look at unobstructed views of the lake, Summerfest, the river and the Hoan bridge. This vantage point gives me a pretty comprehensive view of the lay of the land and the land mass that would be affected by any massive work done addressing the bridge. I have 2 comments to add to this discussion.

    First a subjective one-the shape and structure of the bridge, in my opinion, should not be underestimated as a waterfront icon and gate to Milwaukee. Let’s not forget the importance that our proximity to Lake Michigan is unique to our DNA, historically and symbolically. We aren’t San Francisco with her Bay and Golden Gate bridges, but this is OUR bridge. Replacing it with a smaller bridge or a street level solution for dubious economic tax gains is extremely short sighted.

    Second-about that smaller bridge option… The comments made by people downsizing the water traffic certainly aren’t seeing what I see from my deck. The very large freighters and tankers will obviously be affected. But let’s not forget about the much greater amount of pleasure boating that takes place as sailboaters-and I see a lot of them, sometimes a dozen an hour or more-use the river to get to moorings, Riverwalk restaurants and bars, and their condos. If the bridge was replaced with a new, smaller one with a 45-50 ft clearence over the water as suggested above, a rather modest sailboat of 27 ft length, with typically a 49 ft mast would not clear the bridge. Bridges in Florida that scan waterways with significant boat traffic are often 70 ft. so they don’t have to open so often. It should be in our interest to look for ways to welcome this revenue, not make it difficult and just plain ugly and homogenous for the sake of increasing tax revenues. And the argument for building more condos does not hold water. Just read the paper-or take it from someone who spent almost a year looking at failed developments looking for buyers!

  62. Dave Reid says:

    @Rick It is my understanding that that a lower bridge could be at 60 feet to handle most Milwaukee leisure boaters. As far as future condo development that could come about by removing the flyover ramps, none of that would happen next year. It’s not like this could happen overnight, simply the time of getting through the politics and then the actual demo work would be years, then no development happens overnight, but overtime removing the flyover ramps would open up some of the best land in Wisconsin.

    I’d add though certainly, minimizing the number of times it might up would be a priority.

  63. Rick Thrun says:

    Dave-I don’t disagree. I am not against opening up and utilizing excessive ramp structures, although I do think people who have expressed the benefit to go west with minimum street hassle have a valid point. That will be their agenda. I am most concerned with giving our city’s aesthetics a voice that isn’t valued only by what tax can come from it. More condos will not now, or in the foreseeable future be a magic pill. There is glut now and many developments stand half built or hardly occupied. Supply and demand 101. A vital city needs a heart and soul-and an identity. IMHO, Milwaukee suffers from an identity crisis not best served by the tax, slash and burn mentality of our politicians. I wouldn’t want most of these politicos and their minions planning my kid’s birthday party much less the city’s future vision.

  64. John says:

    I don’t know if this has been touched upon but what if instead of building smaller bridges to replace the Hoan, they just dug tunnels. Kinda how Mass did it with their big dig (minus all the headache). I think having lake drive extended would be a boon for Milwaukee. Instead of having bridges mess with the flow of water traffic they could build some tunnels under the waterways. This should make the flow of vehicular traffic constant (and make the southern suburbs) and extend lake drive. Again, i don’t know if this can be achieved.

  65. Dave Reid says:

    @Rick “More condos will not now, or in the foreseeable future be a magic pill.” Certainly, though I’d point out the top 10 condo projects in the 4th district pay more in taxes than two of the Aldermanic districts. That does matter. That said it isn’t simply about more tax base but really building out the Third Ward. The Third Ward needs more population, to support the area business, and again this helps in that regard… Surely the Hoan has some benefits, but to me, the value, and how the city could be knit back together is much more important and valuable.

  66. Rick Thrun says:

    @Dave-I’m all for economic stability and growth, city revitalization and cultural opportunities. I think we agree on this. Drawing more people (to live) into the Third Ward is a good thing. However, the value and draw of a community isn’t and shouldn’t be premised on how many new condos you build-at the expense (teardown) of it’s existing iconic features. That’s the fundamental difference between urban and suburban mindset . Build lots of lots out in the suburbs and in the end what do you have? Lots of insulated people and artificial business development to sustain them. People haven’t been selling their homes in the “burbs and relocating downtown because they yearn for more Applebys, mega-cineplexes and oddlot shoe stores. They want to get back in touch with the “real-ness” of their city. The Hoan bridge is part of that landscape.

  67. Dave Reid says:

    @Rick I guess we’re just going to disagree on this one. The visual appeal of the Hoan bridge itself, might be wonderful but the connecting bridges it requires are blighting. And to me this blighting is far more negative than the Hoan is positive.

  68. Tom says:

    Dave here’s the kicker then,
    How long are you willing to wait for these new developments to make sense?
    5 years? 10?
    We need to make a decision now.
    We have a bridge deck that needs to be replaced in 2 years or less.
    We have a super structure that should be good for 50+ years.
    If we skip the redecking, tear the whole thing down, build new ramps, approches,
    lift bridge, that will cost millions more then redecking. And take 2-3 times longer.
    And disrupt traffic for 1-2 years. How much is it going to cost the port and our econommy
    as a whole if we have to send the truck traffic that the port needs onto side streets.
    What if it takes 10+ years for the realestate market and our economy in gerneral to
    get to a point where more condos are needed in this new section of the third ward?

    Current third ward buisnesses are not going to happy about losing a lot of buisness
    during constructiuon. And who knows if much of the south side will ever come back.

    I live on the south shore and thanks to the Hoan, I have an easy time getting to places
    like Fanatics and The Milwaukee Ale house. Get rid of the Hoan and I’m staying near home
    (the new St. Francis Brewery is great).

    In this economy the only thing that makes sense is redecking. Once that happens,
    then we have 40-50 years to discuss how to make that land in the third ward open for

  69. Jeff says:

    The city of Racine doesnt even have one four lane road north to Milwaukee, extending the Lake Parkway south into Racine county is desperately needed. As it is now, I-94 is 15 minutes away from Racine. No wonder not many people come here to visit. When will our leaders wake up?

  70. Mike says:

    So nothing is happening with the engineering study, will we wait for it to fail, then sell the land to developers? Doyle and Busalacchi will not even answer e mails asking about this.
    We need to resurface the bridge now, and make sure it stays for many years to come.

  71. Kevin says:

    Fixing the bridge would cost about $240million, which would put off total reconstruction around 2030-2040, when the support pillars need to be replaced, that project will cost around $500million plus inflation. Building an at-grade roadway with bridge will cost $240million, which will last longer than a bridge. If the lift-bridge and roadway are positioned correctly, the approach to the bridge will be high enough to allow businesses to continue work below the bridge.

    I really like Klein’s idea. It solves all of the problems. Traffic flow will not be interrupted, work can continue in the Port, and it will save tons of money on maintenance costs.

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  73. Dave Reid says:

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