Café Hollander has resumed offering seating on the Harwood pedestrian bridge to its customers.
The bridge that crosses the Menomonee River and connects more than 250 parking spaces to the heart of the Wauwatosa Village has reopened after nearly two months of construction.
Initially, the bridge and the Hart's Mill Parking Lot on the opposite side of the railroad tracks were scheduled to undergo a facelift. The old, red brick pavers were removed and stamp concrete was to be installed. The construction schedule called for the area to reopen by June 5.
However, construction crews discovered the concrete panels that create the expanse were disintegrating due to water damage. They had to be removed and replaced, work that required a large crane to be brought to the site.
Even with the extra work, the opening was only delayed by about two weeks, said Kathy Ehley, Village Business Improvement District executive director.
She credited the flexibility of the city and contractors to make the project a priority.
"Everybody was really going the extra mile to make this happen," she said.
Village officials wanted to see the bridge open for this past Saturday morning's Tosa Farmers Market. But when Ehley arrived, she noticed contractors getting ready to put a final seal on the concrete, a process that takes time to cure and would require the bridge remained shut down.
Workers were kind enough to leave and return that afternoon, which meant hundreds of people were able to walk across and patronize both the market and the small businesses in the Village.
Today is the first day Café Hollander's tables and chairs were allowed on the improved bridge. There was a waiting period to make sure the outdoor furniture didn't scratch the sealant. In addition, the restaurant's new fountain is installed and operating.
Employees of Café Hollander and many other Village businesses also get their parking spots back. For months, the BID has tried to get workers to park in the Hart's Mill and lot behind the Little Red Store, so spaces closer to the businesses could be used by patrons.
The look of the new bridge is a huge improvement, Ehley said. Since geographically it's a low point, it can be seen by people driving into the Village.
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