There’s been a lot of talk here in the South Shore suburbs about the future of the Hoan Bridge, which needs to be replaced or redecked, given the poor condition of the road surface. One proposal that’s been floated is the idea of tearing down the Hoan and replacing it with a street-level version of I-1794, with lower lift bridges or drawbridges replacing the Hoan itself.
Opponents of tearing down the Hoan Bridge, who include County Supervisors Pat Jursik, Chris Larson, and Marina Dimitrijevic, along with State Rep. Chris Sinicki, have formed the Coalition to Save the Hoan, which will be hosting a series of town hall meetings to gather community input on the future of Milwaukee’s Hoan Bridge. According to their press release, the Coalition to Save the Hoan Bridge was formed to “draw more attention to the quiet effort underway to remove the transportation link between the south shore and downtown Milwaukee.”
In a statement, Supervisor Jursik said of the proposal to tear down the Hoan Bridge, “Facts are facts. The State Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) are both behind a clandestine effort to tear down an economic lifeline used by tens of thousands of drivers every day. The DOT’s figure of $200 million to re-deck one bridge cannot be correct. That’s one-fourth of the entire Marquette Interchange project! These are the facts that the DOT and the MMAC don’t want you to hear.” I’ve seen the DoT’s cost estimates to redeck the Hoan Bridge, and I’d be curious to see some numbers to back up Sup. Jursik’s conclusion that redecking the Hoan Bridge won’t cost that much.
As a resident of the South Shore suburbs, I’ve grown to appreciate the importance of I-794 as a vital connection between Milwaukee’s downtown (and points north of downtown) and the southern suburbs, and while I’d be opposed to any efforts to cut that connection, that’s not what’s being proposed by the DoT. The proposal I’ve read about would replace the Hoan with a street-level freeway and lower bridges; it wouldn’t cut the connection completely. It seems to me that the argument against tearing down the Hoan is one of convenience, as tearing down the Hoan and replacing it with a street-level freeway with lower bridges might add a few minutes to the morning and afternoon commutes.
I support whatever proposal makes the most sense from a dollars and cents perspective, because while time is certainly a valuable thing, I’d rather spend a few extra minutes in my car each day if it meant saving millions of tax dollars. What’s more, I simply cannot support redecking the Hoan Bridge if such a project includes toll roads, whether on I-794 or elsewhere, as Supervisor Jursik has proposed. Ultimately, when a decision is reached on how best to proceed with the Hoan Bridge, the most cost effective solution should be the solution chosen, not the solution that pleases the most elected officials.