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Rock ‘n’ road: Getting to Summerfest could be a zoo this year

Motorists weave their way through the construction zone which has over taken the Hoan Bridge Tuesday, June 23 and past the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee. People headed to Summerfest which starts Wednesday will have several construction sites to pass through before making their destination. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Motorists weave their way through the I-794 construction zone and past the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee on Tuesday. Drivers will see plenty of orange cones on their way to Summerfest, which kicks off Wednesday. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

With roughly 900,000 people expected to attend Summerfest this year, getting there could be a zoo … specifically the Zoo Interchange.

With numerous road construction projects underway in the Milwaukee area, the organizers of the annual Summerfest music festival and officials from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation are providing tips for getting to the fest, which runs June 24 to 28 and June 30 to July 5 at Henry Maier Festival Park along Milwaukee’s lakefront.

Beyond construction on the Hoan Bridge adjacent to the Summerfest grounds, one of the major sources of disruption is work at the Zoo Interchange, where Interstate 894 meets U.S. Highway 45 and I-94. Work on the interchange also includes improvements to service interchanges at North Avenue, Watertown Plank Road, Bluemound Road, 84th Street, Highway 100 and Greenfield Avenue.

smile-logoAs part of the Zoo Interchange project, the I-94 west to I-894/U.S. 45 south ramp and the I-894/U.S. 45 north to I-94 west ramp were closed in early March. To accommodate the construction of the new interchange, the westbound to southbound ramp will remain closed until fall 2017. The northbound to westbound ramp will remain closed until late 2015.

During the festival, motorists will be encouraged to use alternative routes whenever possible.

WisDOT’s alternative routes include I-94 west to Highway 100, south to Greenfield Avenue, east to I-894; I-94 west to Miller Park Way, south to Lincoln Avenue, west to Beloit Road, south and west to I-894; and a regional alternative route of I-43/I-94 south to I-43/I-894 West.

For drivers going northbound to the westbound ramp,  the suggested alternative routes will include taking I-894 west to Greenfield Avenue, west to Highway 100, north to I-94 west; U.S. 45 north to Watertown Plank Road, west to Highway 100 south to I-94 west; and I-43/I-94 north to I-94 west and I-43 south to Moorland Road, north to I-94 west.

Public transportation is another option. The Milwaukee County Transit System plans to operate Freeway Flyers that will go from eight park-and-ride lots to the Summerfest Main Gate. The Flyers will provide service on weekdays, running about every 30 minutes, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and about every 15 minutes from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

On weekends, the service will run every 15 to 20 minutes. Regional shuttles from Racine, Kenosha, Ozaukee, and Waukesha counties will also be available. Amtrak provides service from Chicago and the Badger Bus will bring riders from Madison.

The $1.7 billion Zoo Interchange project will lead to a complete reconstruction of one of the busiest interchanges in Milwaukee. The main phase of reconstruction began this year and is expected to continue through 2017, although not all the work will end then. The north leg of the interchange – U.S. Highway 45 – is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018. Beyond Michels Corp. and Wisconsin Constructors II, the various companies employed on the project include Zignego Co. and Super Western.

About Matt Taub, matt.taub@dailyreporter.com

Matt Taub is the Milwaukee city beat reporter. He can be reached at matt.taub@dailyreporter.com or 414-225-1820.

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