Seven Reasons To Replace The Hoan Bridge
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.
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.