Patti Wenzel

DOT reverses course, Hoan Bridge will be repaired

By - Jul 14th, 2010 04:00 am
Sign-up for the Urban Milwaukee daily email

Photo by la vaca vegetariana via Flickr

Sometimes public and political pressure builds up so much that even those in the proverbial bureaucratic snake pits have to stand up and notice.

That is what seems to have happened in  Madison yesterday as the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced it would immediately begin the necessary repairs and engineering inspections of the Hoan Bridge. The work is expected to be completed in 2011.

An in-depth assessment will begin next week, to provide information for a complete replacement of the concrete deck and structural repairs. The DOT is estimating that the assessment will cost $650,000 and will be completed by the end of this year.

Bids will be let out for the construction of the deck in September, with construction beginning in October. The total cost of the deck repair is expected to range between $12 and $17 million dollars.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic was told the money would come from ‘transportation funds,” but not from the surplus $100 million from the Federal Transportation Fund received last week. A DOT spokesperson said the money will come from the 2011 Statewide Maintenance Appropriation, which totals $202 million. He said they will work within that budget to complete the Hoan repairs and others throughout the state.

Dimitrijevic, a member of the Coalition to Save the Hoan, is pleased that the state has decided to make the repairs and do an inspection on the bridge.

“We’ve been wanting, for a very long time, for any repair work to be done,” she said. “We are glad there is going to be some work done.”

“We are also very happy to see an inspection scheduled. This will finally give us real numbers for repairs,” she stated in a telephone interview.

Image courtesy of County Supervisor Patricia Jursik

DOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi has been bombarded with petitions and requests from the CSH and other citizens to repair the bridge and replace the deck over the past year, but it fell on deaf ears as an idea to raze the Hoan and replace it with a lift-style bridge at the harbor was floated past the public .

Dimitrijevic thinks the change of heart on the state’s part came after plastic netting was installed under the Hoan to catch large chunks of cement falling from it.

“Our priority is to keep the Hoan Bridge structurally sound and safe for the traveling public,” Busalacchi said. “The department has an active process for maintenance and inspection of bridges. The Hoan Bridge continues to receive the same high level of uncompromised attention as other structures around the state.”

That’s not saying much when 2,020 of Wisconsin’s bridges are considered structurally deficient (posted for lower speeds and lighter vehicles) or functionally obsolete (may not be designed for current traffic volumes or vehicle weights). Much of that is due to delayed maintenance by the state DOT.

The announcement of the Hoan repairs leads Dimitrijevic to believe that the idea of replacing the bridge with an at-grade road and drawbridge is dead on arrival.

“This signifies that we are definitely keeping the Hoan Bridge,” she said. “The people really depend on it in the Third Ward, Bay View and the far southside suburbs.”

State Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) said, “I applaud the Department of Transportation’s work to begin the repairs and engineering review of the Hoan Bridge. This must be the beginning and not the final steps in a thorough process to ensure that the bridge is repaired completely, as quickly as possible and with as much federal assistance as possible.”

The DOT was scheduled to open bids yesterday on a contract to install and repair netting beneath the bridge. It is not known if that project will continue as planned.

Categories: News, Urban Ideas

0 thoughts on “DOT reverses course, Hoan Bridge will be repaired”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is great news! Mrs. M. & I both really love that bridge, and I think many people out there consider it a Milwaukee landmark.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is the Hoan a great bridge? Structurally it doesn’t look like it, but the arches have become a part of our landscape. The bridge also represents a great man in Milwaukee’s history–Daniel Hoan….I’m assuming most of Milwaukee has no idea who that is.

    What non-Hoan users don’t understand is that if there is no bridge at all (or even temporarily), Howell, KK, 1st Street, and Water Street will become jam packed. These streets do not have the capacity (lanes) to carry that many more cars on a regular basis.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad repairs are going forward, but it mostly proves Marina Dimitrijevic is a mean-spirited, fear-mongering demagogue preying on the basest instincts of her constituents. State government SHOULD evaluate all alternatives before going forward with such expensive repairs or rebuilding; that’s good, smart decision-making, and just because the idea of tearing it down was floated doesn’t mean the DOT favored that plan. The tone of this article makes it clear Ms. Wenzel got sucked into the fear-hole, too, and deserves a dunce cap for it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t get suck down the fear-hole, but I will admit a bias on this bridge. I love it and think it provides a necessary route to the southeast suburbs (having lived in Cudahy I can attest to it) and it reduces some of the traffic on KK, 1st, Howell and 1-94. I’ve covered the DOT for a long time and don’t trust them as far as I could throw them. Plus, I think some things are worth saving. Yeah it’s a kitchy-looking icon from the architecturally-challenged 1970s, but pseudo-historic draw bridges aren’t the answer. Thanks for commenting citydweller!

  5. Anonymous says:

    citydweller: Seriously, I’m just curious–1) do you use the Hoan on a regular basis (at least 3 times a week), 2) do you live on the south side, and 3) is Marina Dimitrijevic your county supervisor?

  6. Anonymous says:

    @checkitout: You seem to think I’m against repairing and keeping the Hoan. I’m not. I also happen to know a thing or two about public policy, and absolutely oppose making these kinds of decisions based on fear-mongering, hysteria and goofy conspiracy theories. Fanning the flames of ill-founded suspicion, as Dimitrijevic insists on doing, is pure demagoguery, not leadership. She should be ashamed of herself for engaging in it, and anyone who bought into her rampant B.S. on this subject should be ashamed for being a sucker.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s a bridge that’s a pleasure to drive over and it would be a shame if it were no longer around. Regardless as to what date it was designed, it’s form is classic and it works.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I love the access and convenience the bridge provides and want to keep that access. I think the comments from City Dweller were off base on the comments about Marina, but I’m with city dweller on the comments pertinent to the bridge.

    I couldn’t be more disappointed in our political representation on this. There was no critical thinking applied to this issue at all. It looked like hysterical women that were completely reactionary and not visionary’ I’m embarrassed as a woman that they fell into that trap of absolute hysteria that Patricia Jursik laid for them. To think that these people have the power to spend 20 million dollars and influence major infrastructure plans with no real skills to do so.

    This is a missed opportunity for Milwaukee to create something remarkable. We have the 6th st. bridge that is actually architecturally relevant. And Bay View will be known for the ugly golden arches that minimizes the potential of a lakefront and destroys the aesthetics of our lakefront.

    Understanding that we need the Port to serve our maritime industry, we could have really made that section of the lakefront a great place to attract more businesses in the maritime industry and capitalize on an emerging market of fresh water industry.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It’s not about taking the connection away forever, it’s about SAVING money and building a cost-efficient bridge. It’s like buying a used car, do you keep investing in it every time it breaks, or do you get a newer car with less problems?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *