Closures this week at Watertown Plank Road and south for utility work are percursor to full reconstruction planned to begin in March, DOT says.
by Jim Price, Greenfield Patch
If you think you’ve seen a lot of detours and closings already, get set. You’re about to get the first taste of the real deal – six years, or perhaps eight or nine, of the eye-popping Zoo Interchange Reconstruction Project.
In preparation for major reconstruction that will begin in March and continue through next summer, a stretch of Mayfair Road will go down to one lane in each direction for part of the coming week, with more lane closures to follow, a Wisconsin Department of Transportation official says.
Ryan Luck of the DOT, in an interview Friday morning with Patch’s partners at Fox 6 News, said that one lane each way had already been closed and that only one lane in each direction would be open from Monday through Wednesday in the area of Watertown Plank Road and to the south.
The closings are to relocate utilities in preparation for the bigger task of rebuilding Mayfair from just north of Watertown Plank south to Greenfield Avenue. That work begins in March and is expected to last through the summer.
For those who have already experienced the headaches of Mayfair Road reconstruction north of there – which is to say nearly everyone – it will be more of the same in a different place.
While last year’s lengthy lane closings and forests of orange barrels made life hectic to the north and south of Mayfair Mall, the busiest retail center in the state, this year’s work will affect other critical hubs.
Mayfair and Watertown Plank roads are, of course, primary conduits to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, the Milwaukee County Research Park and other county institutions just to the east, with loads of commuter, patient and vistor traffic.
Farther south, the busy intersection of Mayfair with Blue Mound Road will also become a focal point of frustration for commuters and commerce – as well as visitors to the Milwaukee County Zoo, for which the freeway confluence is named.
Luck also told Fox 6 that the Greenfield Avenue overpass, in West Allis, will be demolished by the end of this month, possibly by Jan. 21, and will be rebuilt and reopened by some time in July.
Luck conspicuously did not mention any work scheduled for Swan Boulevard at Hwy. 45 this year, as had been planned by the DOT.
Swan was to have been realigned so as to pass completely over 45 and then curve back to meet Watertown Plank Road across from the Research Park. (It currently is split, with its northbound lane east of 45 at grade level and its southbound lane passing over to the west side of the freeway.)
It is not certain, though, that funds for that effort will included in the DOT’s budget for this year. Transportation officials announced late last year that it was possible that budget shortfalls might stretch completion of the whole Zoo Interchange rebuild out two years or more longer than planned, from 2018 to 2020 or beyond.
Wauwatosa Mayor Kathy Ehley, by a resolution of the Common Council, sent a letter to Gov. Scott Walker and legislators representing Wauwatosa urging the state to budget for the design date of completion, citing the economic and quality of life issues delaying the project would impose.
Work on Swan Boulevard would also be dependant on Wauwatosa completing the new Discovery Parkway, north and south through the northeast quadrant of the County Grounds between Swan and Watertown Plank, as an alternative route.
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