Downtown Milwaukee bridge to close Monday, remain closed for 16 months

Downtown Milwaukee bridge to close Monday, remain closed for 16 months

By The WTMJ News Team. CREATED Aug 1, 2011

MILWAUKEE - A busy bridge over the Milwaukee River in Downtown Milwaukee closed Monday, and remain closed for more than a year.

Repair work began Monday on the Juneau Avenue bridge.  Barricades went up first thing on Monday morning.

The project was to last 16 months, a length of time which worries many restaurant and bar owners because of a potential loss of business.

Those owners stress that their businesses will remain open during repairs until the bridge re-opens in November of 2012.

"It's kind of slow if you ask me," said Eric Raiski.  He fears it's going to cause problems during this summer.

"I think anytime is a bad time, but especially now with the festivals going on."

Crews will replace the 58-year-old bridge with a vertical bridge similar to the one along Knapp Street and other downtown streets that go over the Milwaukee river.

"This is one of the worst-conditioned bridges in the city," explained Dale Majaki of the City of Milwaukee.

"We did some emergency repairs over the last couple of years."

The cost of the project runs about $25 million, with federal dollars footing most of the bill.

Jared Millen owns What's Fresh Deli, which is near the bridge.

Although he wants the construction done as soon as possible, he is not too concerned that the construction will impact his business.

"We have a very nice customer base," explained Millen.  "They have been with us for decades.  They will be here."

He does want an explanation for the 16-month time frame.

"16 months is an accelerated time frame in and of itself to do a complete bridge reconstruction."