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WisDOT to hit pause on work during DNC

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans to pause interstate construction work for more than a week during the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee this summer.

The agency will stop roadwork between 5:30 a.m. July 9 through 10 p.m. July 17 — the last day of the convention, which is expected to draw about 50,000 visitors to Milwaukee. The city of Milwaukee this week posted a notice on its building permit website saying it would bar excavation work in much of the city for a month leading up to the convention, a step intended to prevent power outages if contractors were to make a mistake.

Kristin McHugh, a WisDOT spokeswoman, said it’s typical for the agency to put construction work on hold during holidays or other large events. She said the ban would “primarily” apply to interstates in southeast Wisconsin, although some sections of roadways outside the Milwaukee area may also be subject to work restrictions.

“We use similar restrictions during peak holidays and major traffic generating events to efficiently and reliably move motorists to their destinations,” McHugh said in a statement. “This strategy has been used in the past for other events that add tens of thousands of additional vehicles to the highway system.”

Jim Hoffman, president of Black River Falls-based Hoffman Construction, said his company may have highway projects going on in Racine County during the DNC this summer. It’s “pretty standard” for large events to put the breaks on construction projects, he said. The firm may not work on Green Bay-area projects during Packers home games, for instance. And with more cars on the road, it can be tough to get work done, anyway.

“You lose productivity with increased traffic,” Hoffman said.

The city of Milwaukee is also taking additional steps to limit construction during the DNC.

The city says it may “stop or suspend” work in the public right-of-way beginning June 13 and running through July 17. Milwaukee is outlawing excavation work in an area bordered by North/South 20th Street, West Lapham Boulevard, West Locust Street and Lake Michigan. That’s an area that extends from Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood to the south to the Harambee neighborhood to the north.

Officials hope such a ban will reduce the risk of power outages during the DNC.

Separately, We Energies is also asking businesses that think they might need to use extra energy during the event to hire a qualified electrician to perform maintenance on their equipment.

About Nate Beck, nbeck@dailyreporter.com

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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