As in the past few years, drivers on their way to Summerfest will have to navigate their way through a slew of construction work before being able to see their favorite band.
The good news, says Michael Pyritz, a Wisconsin Department of Transportation spokesman, is that this year is a little less busy than last. The biggest construction obstacle many drivers are likely to encounter on their way to Summerfest is the Lakefront Gateway project.
The $34 million project calls for moving a pair of interstate ramps further south in a change meant to open more land along the city’s lakefront, widening Clybourn Street and extending Lincoln Memorial Drive into the city’s Third Ward. The work is meant both to give Milwaukee a more appealing entryway from the south and to make it easier for people to move between the city’s lakefront and the Third Ward.
Summerfest road closures
Among the roadways now closed because of the project are the exit ramps leading from the west- and east-bound lanes of Interstate 794 to Lincoln Memorial Drive. In the past, those exits were popular ways of getting to the Summerfest grounds.
The Lakefront Gateway work will mean drivers will now have to seek out an alternative route. Summerfest organizers are advising drivers who are taking I-94 in from the west to get off well before they reach downtown – at the exit for 26th Street and St. Paul Avenue. Still other possibilities include leaving the highway at National Avenue or, even closer to the festival grounds, at the exit for Jackson and Van Buren streets.
Drivers coming from other directions have similar options. Pyritz said he believes Summerfest will actually be easier to get to this year — at least for some drivers — than it was in 2015. Click here driving instructions.
Last summer, he noted, work was not only proceeding on I-794 but also on a massive reconstruction of the Hoan Bridge, one of the main ways of getting into Milwaukee’s downtown from the south. With the work on that project having wrapped up in December and several of the interstate’s ramps leading to downtown streets reopened, there should be fewer obstacles to traffic.
The ongoing Lakefront Gateway project will still give festival-goers a closer view of road construction than many are likely to get at any other time of the year, Pyritz said.
“They should take a moment and take a look and see the work we are getting done,” he said. “It’s progressing well.”
WisDOT will be taking several steps to accommodate fans attending Summerfest, which gets underway Wednesday and lasts nearly two weeks. Work on the Lakefront Gateway will be curtailed during festival hours. Also, construction will be brought to halt on all southeast Wisconsin projects from noon on Friday to 6 a.m. Tuesday for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The Lakefront Gateway project is expected to wrap up next year. Click here for the construction schedule.Follow @TDR_WLJDan