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Hoan Bridge letter sparks concern

By Sean Ryan

Contrary to concerns raised by the Coalition to Save the Hoan, Milwaukee officials are not trying to delay re-decking of the Hoan Bridge, said the city engineer.

“By absolutely no means have we asked the state to delay this project,” said City Engineer Jeff Polenske.

Polenske signed a Nov. 16 letter from the city asking the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to look at construction alternatives for the Hoan Bridge, an aging Interstate 794 bridge. Polenske said the letter would not delay a bridge-repair project because it asks WisDOT to consider construction alternatives as the department plans to rehabilitate the Hoan’s roadway surface as early as 2011.

Earlier engineering studies commissioned by WisDOT explored the idea of tearing down the high-rise bridge and replacing it with an at-grade boulevard, which would open up land in and around the Port of Milwaukee for redevelopment.

That concept drew the ire of Milwaukee elected officials, who gathered to form the Coalition to Save the Hoan. The coalition last week sent a petition with 8,079 signatures to the state asking that the bridge be preserved rather than torn down.

Patricia Jursik, Milwaukee County Board supervisor and one of the founders of the Hoan coalition, issued a written statement on Monday raising concerns about the city of Milwaukee letter. The letter would result in a delay of a project to replace the road surface on the bridge, according to Jursik’s statement.

The city of Milwaukee letter asks WisDOT to consider how different designs for the Hoan could affect development, the Port of Milwaukee’s truck and rail access, and the ability to get people to and from the Henry Maier Festival Park, which is located on the north end of the bridge.

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