Milwaukee zoo prepares for life after interchange project
The Milwaukee County Zoo should be able to move forward on a master plan for renovations of its exhibits and buildings and the replacement of parking space that will be lost to the Zoo Interchange reconstruction project, a county committee decided Tuesday.
The Parks, Energy and Environment Committee will recommend to the full board Sept. 27 that the zoo be allowed to partner with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County to split the $300,000 price tag for a two-stage study and consultant fees.
Milwaukee County Zoo Director Chuck Wikenhauser said he expects the study to be complete by June 2013, which will allow the zoo time to request money from the county to pay for identified projects through the 2014 budget process.
The amount requested will depend on the study, but the zoo has developed master plans twice before, and Wikenhauser said he wants the county to commit at least as much money as it has in the past. Zoological Society President and CEO Robert Davis said the county contributed $15 million to the last master plan in 1997.
A master plan consultant is expected to be hired in mid- to late-October, Davis said.
Wikenhauser said he expects the study to target upgrades to the elephant, hippopotamus and rhinoceros exhibits, as well as upgrades to the small mammal building, the Australia building and some food service areas. The study will also determine how to mitigate the impact of the Zoo Interchange reconstruction project, he said.
Bob Gutierrez, design chief for the project, said a U.S. 45 ramp will run through what is now about 200 auxiliary parking spaces, and WisDOT will pay to replace them. It’s not clear yet where the replacement parking will be built or whether it will be in the form of a parking garage or a surface lot, Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said structures in the maintenance area south of the zoo likewise will not be affected, but entrances to a tunnel running under Interstate 94 from the zoo to the area might see minor changes.
– Beth Kevit