Expect The Hoan Bridge Debate To Heat Up
Like the temperature outside, the Hoan Bridge reconstruction debate will heat up over the next few weeks. Alderman Robert Bauman, who represents downtown Milwaukee and the north end of the bridge, recently issued a press release that details how the city will likely position itself on the issues with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT).
The release indicates positions we have advocated for before, including the need for the bridge to better interact with the city at its northern terminus at Clybourn and Lincoln Memorial Drive.
One should not hold out hope that the city gets everything it asks for though. As evidence of how little influence they city may have in the issue, Mayor Barrett and Common Council President Hines were mere attendees at the Marquette Interchange ribbon cutting. They stood among the crowd, while Governor Doyle and Transportation Secretary Busalacchi unveiled their $800 million interchange. There might not be better symbolism for highway building than that. The city can yell all it wants, but will the state listen?
Bridge reconstruction is expected to be completed in 2013. The timeframe for such a redevelopment is relatively fast.
The entire structure is in need of serious maintenance in the form of a redecking. Running from the eastern half of Interstate 794 downtown to the south end of the bridge where it touches down in Bay View.
Who Uses It
The bridge serves primarily Bay View, St. Francis, and other southside residents looking to enter downtown and nearby neighborhoods. It likewise provides access for individuals downtown looking to get to the airport.
Who Builds It
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will award and manage contracts for bridge reconstruction. The City of Milwaukee is not the project manager by any means.
Simply rebuilding the bridge as is was estimated at $200 million, and some sort of rebuild is viewed as necessary for safety reasons. A considerable amount of money is going to need to be spent, even just to maintain the status quo.
Bauman’s Proposed Principles
Alderman Bauman’s press release revealed a series of principles to be introduced to the full Common Council on July 7th.
- The bridge and its approaches must use the existing right-of-way and substantially the same footprint.
- The bridge’s approaches must remain elevated over all land uses currently beneath the approaches, including but not limited to the Port of Milwaukee, MMSD and the Maier festival park.
- Any moveable bridge spans must have sufficient clearance over the (average) water level to minimize bridge openings for non-commercial vessels.
- Bridge openings must be limited to non-peak traffic periods, except in emergencies.
- The bridge and its approaches must accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
- The bridge and its approaches must be limited to two travel lanes and one distress lane, bicycle lane and pedestrian sidewalk in each direction.
- The lake shore interchange must be eliminated and replaced by an at-grade intersection or roundabout in the approximate location of Clybourn Street and Lincoln Memorial Drive.
- All new or reconstructed structures must be designed with lighting and architectural elements developed in consultation with the City of Milwaukee.
Cost is something to consider, and dropping the bridge to an intersection at the north end would likely mean the loss of the Interstate designation and some amount of federal funding. That isn’t a reason not to do a highway rebuild though, as the state has shown by spending $400 million rebuilding Highway 26 from Janesville to Watertown, which includes the addition of by-passes around towns smaller than the Bay View neighborhood.