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Milwaukee Avenue rebuilding in 2014 worries neighbors

Nov. 20, 2013

Residents of Aldermanic District 2 raised concerns this week about the city's plan to rebuild Milwaukee Avenue next year. Parking, driveway access, tree preservation and lateral sewer connections were among the topics raised by homeowners at the town hall meeting.

The $7.4 million plan — the city's biggest capital project of 2014 — involves installing new storm sewer, sanitary sewer and water main under the street, and repaving the surface. The project extends from Wauwatosa Avenue west to Ludington, and will include the installation of pipe under Charles Hart Parkway and Ridge Court.

The project will take from March or April right through Thanksgiving to complete, Porter said during the meting, held at the Wauwatosa Woman's Club, and hosted by District 2 Alderman John Dubinski and Alderwoman Kathleen Causier. Director of Public Works William Porter and engineers Joe Marks and Maggie Anderson made the presentation and answered questions.

Driveways will be cut off

The work will not expand the footprint of the street — the curbs will still be where they are, Porter said. But the driveways will be inaccessible for three to five weeks, Anderson said, with access to homes preserved from the street. The driveway aprons will be rebuilt, and Marks said it would be possible for homeowners to pay to have their driveway apron made wider than it originally was. Porter said the cost of the project is otherwise at city expense, and will not be specially assessed.

Some residents objected to the loss of access to their driveway for such a long period. One resident, Dale Hofmann, complained that getting groceries into the house would be more difficult. Another asked about temporary "piers" being installed to allow access while their driveway apron was missing, but the engineers said that would impede the work and make it last longer.

Anderson said every effort would be made to provide street-side parking in front of houses that had lost access to their driveways.

Marks said parking permits would be provided to residents to allow them to keep their cars on the streets nearby without fear of a ticket.

Not all details known

Many details of the project are yet to be worked out, Porter said repeatedly. One unknown is the project's impact on trees. He said there would be no clear-cutting and every effort would be made to preserve what's there. Large equipment used in the work may damage or necessitate removal of individual trees, and in cases where trees would be removed, replacements would be planted.

Pressed on the kind of trees that would be planted, Porter said the city would work with homeowners to try to get them a species they chose or could accept.

Lateral lines, which connect individual homes to the sanitary sewer line in the street, are legally the homeowner's responsibility. But one homeowner wondered if it wouldn't be prudent to consider replacing a damaged lateral line while the street was dug up.

Porter said the exposed ends of laterals would be "looked at," and Marks said replacement of laterals while the street was dug up was not necessarily cheaper than doing them as a separate project. A lateral typically crosses the front yard of a home, and front yards generally won't be part of the construction.

Why Milwaukee Avenue?

Originally the city planned to install large piping down Underwood Avenue to relieve street flooding in and around the Village, but when the city received only one bid for the project, and it was $500,000 above budget, Porter turned his attention to Milwaukee Avenue, which was already slated to be rebuilt. The flooding issue will be addressed by 4- to 5-foot pipe under the street that will take storm water to the river down Ridge Court and Charles Hart Parkway.

By comparison, the pipes used in the Meinecke flood abatement project were 10 feet in diameter. The Meinecke project, at more than $14 million, was twice as expensive.

Porter said "tunnneling," rather than "cutting," may be used on Ridge Court, a dead end, to keep the homes more accessible.

Porter noted the bidding for the project would be undertaken over the winter, and he said he would providing updates. "It's a work in progress," Dubinski said. "It's going to be a struggle, but we're going to get there."

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