A Milwaukee alderman has threatened to file a lawsuit on behalf of his constituents if contractors demolishing Interstate 794 in downtown Milwaukee continue their late-night operations.
Alderman Robert Bauman, whose district includes the reconstruction project, said residents who live in Milwaukee’s Third Ward have complained that demolition is continuing into the early morning, sometimes until 3 a.m.
Bauman sent a letter Friday to Gov. Scott Walker asking him to intervene and ensure the demolition, which “sounds disturbingly similar to a shock-and-awe bombing campaign in the Iraq War,” is scheduled for daytime hours.
Bauman said he has not heard back from the governor.
“And I don’t expect to,” Bauman said. “He doesn’t much care for the sensibilities of citizens in the city of Milwaukee.”
Walker’s office referred a request for comment to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Requests for comment from multiple WisDOT representatives were not immediately returned.
Representatives from Chicago-based Walsh Construction Co., the general contractor on the project, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to constituent complaints, provided by Bauman, demolition work on the Hoan Bridge has woken Third Ward residents on multiple nights. According to an email dated Feb. 4 and attributed to Laura Goranson, who leads the Milwaukee-based G. Moxie public relations team hired by WisDOT for the project, and sent to Jena Miller, a Third Ward resident, the nighttime demolition “will be going on for some time” and is necessary to finish the project before the summer festival season. But, according to the email, WisDOT knows “that this can be really challenging for residents.”
Goranson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Miller, an industrial engineer, said she understands project schedules, but when the sound of a jackhammer woke her up 3 a.m., she decided enough was enough. Her bedroom window faces the Hoan Bridge, she said, and she could feel her bed moving in sync with the equipment.
After Bauman drew attention to the problem Friday, Miller said, a notice from the state was posted in her apartment building’s elevator. According to that notice, she said, the contractor would try to limit the use of noisy equipment at night.
On Monday, Miller said she had noticed a difference.
“I’m optimistic,” she said, “that it’s going to stop.”
But, if it doesn’t, Bauman said, the city might sue.
The city attorney’s office, he said, is exploring the possibility of a public nuisance lawsuit. He said he is unsure whether the residents would have to file the lawsuit or if the city could do so on their behalf. He said he expects the lawsuit would be filed against the contractor.
While he is waiting for answers, he said, arguments about project schedules will not sway his opinion.
“And to hell with the residents?” he said. “That’s not acceptable.”Follow @bkevit