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87th Street reconstruction project improves traffic flow at medical campus

The Milwaukee Regional Medical Center has grown by leaps and bounds since it opened in 1967. The center has more than 19,000 employees, and each year more than 1.5 million patients and visitors stream in and out of its campus.

Though that growth has been good for the city of Wauwatosa, it has put a strain on some of the thoroughfares that cut through campus. By the 2010s, one in particular — 87th Street — had become overwhelmed with traffic, putting the safety of pedestrians at risk. The need to make changes to the street came to the forefront in 2016, when a pedestrian was killed at an 87th Street intersection.

The following year, GRAEF engineers began working on a project to envision a better 87th Street using the “Complete Streets” model.

“Complete Streets” are streets designed and operated to support mobility for all users, regardless of whether they are traveling as drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists or public transportation riders.

The first step in designing the improved 87th Street was planning for campus and neighborhood needs. A traffic study, as well as a bicycle and pedestrian plan, was completed to identify the best possible roadway alignment to serve the needs of the medical center and Wauwatosa residents.

The new alignment required the removal of a 750,000-gallon ground-storage reservoir and the replacement of a water-booster station. In addition, many utilities had to be replaced or moved, including an up-sized storm sewer, two water mains, two underground electrical-transmission lines, four private communications systems and street-lighting systems.

The project was completed in October 2021 at a cost of $15 million. This half-mile stretch of 87th Street now has four lanes — instead of two — and protected off-street lanes for bikes.

87th Street Reconstruction

Location: Wauwatosa

Cost: Not disclosed

Start: 2017

Completion: October 2021

Owner/Developer: Milwaukee Regional Medical Center

Construction Manager: Cotter Consulting

Engineer: GRAEF

General Contractor: Payne & Dolan, Walbec Group

Submitting Company: GRAEF

Subcontractors: Edgerton

Photo Credit: Jim Moy Photography

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