Three-year I-794 Lake Freeway Project set to begin this fall
Milwaukee’s famous arches are set to undergo a major overhaul next year, and commuters can breathe a sigh of relief: the Hoan Bridge will not be shut down during construction.
After more than a decade of talks with community leaders, businesses and residents, the Department of Transportation has put together a plan to extend the life of the aging iconic bridge. At a public information meeting on Wednesday, April 25, officials from the Wisconsin DOT said the bridge will remain open throughout the three-year project.
Previously, there were discussions to tear it down.
The I-794 Lake Freeway Project will feature changes to the Hoan Bridge, I-794 and the Lake Freeway. The DOT has released preliminary designs, but will not finalize the plans until further public input. The project is slated to begin in Fall 2012 and extend into 2016.
More than 40,000 vehicles pass through the Hoan Bridge every day.
Currently, the plans include completely replacing the bridges on I-794 East-West and adding a new concrete overlay to the Lake Interchange, along with other concrete surface and barrier repairs.
The Hoan Bridge hasn’t seen any major repairs outside of stop-gap measures since it was first constructed in the early 1970s. An in-depth inspection in 2010 did not find any significant structural problems, but revealed critical aesthetic decline, according to DOT project manager Carolyn Gellings.
“It’s time for a major repair of the bridge,” she said.
So far, plans to the bridge include replacing its concrete deck, repairing deck expansion joints, and minor modifications to the structure’s steel girders. The work should add about 50 years of life to the gateway.
In 2001, concrete portions fell from the bridge, which sparked the reconstruction debate. A few years later, State Representative Christine Sinicki (D – Milwaukee) helped form the Coalition to Save the Hoan, after several leaders wanted it to be taken down.
“The biggest concern is the impact on the commuters,” Sinicki said. “They understand the inconvenience. But this is going to save the bridge.”
Outside of repairs, Gellings said the bridge will also receive a new coat of paint.
So, will the iconic bridge remain yellow?
“We haven’t determined if it is going to be the same color,” she said. “We’re going to ask the public for input.”