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The DOT is coming to town again

Feb. 26, 2014

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is planning to rebuild more highway, and it will have an effect on Wauwatosa.

In a meeting with a city committee this week, engineers from the DOT laid out plans to rebuild what they call the East-West Freeway Corridor, which connects the Marquette Interchange, rebuilt in 2008, with the Zoo Interchange, which is now the focus of work.

The project is in the planning stages, and work would begin — assuming funding is approved — in 2019.

For Wauwatosa drivers, the project may mean the loss of the Hawley Road on-ramps, under one of several options, but access at the 68th Street/70th Street interchange will remain the same, said Brad Heimlich, a DOT consultant.

Also, Heimlich said, during the construction period, traffic pressure could increase on Wells, Wisconsin and Bluemound roads as drivers seek alternative routes.

The project would rebuild the 3.6 miles of Interstate 94 from 70th Street east to 16th Street at a cost from $700 million to $1 billion. The knottiest problems the DOT faces are rebuilding the Stadium Interchange, and finding a way to expand volume through the Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark, which includes cemeteries that line the freeway.

The DOT committed from the first day not to disturb any graves, DOT engineer Jason Lynch said.

Plans under consideration for that stretch include three double-deck designs, and a surface-level design that would require narrower lanes and no shoulders, Heimlich said.

The cost of that part of the project alone could reach $400 million, according to estimates.

Alderman Jeff Roznowski pressed the DOT representatives on mass transit options, including rail and bus travel, to ease congestion. Lynch and Heimlich agreed there was room for these options, but did not say they were presently under consideration.

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