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North Avenue in Wauwatosa to close Monday for three weeks

Oct. 19, 2012

The city has announced that the closure of North Avenue at 90th street will begin on Monday and last just three weeks, until Nov. 12, far shorter than originally anticipated. Original estimates had the avenue shutting down in early October and staying closed for as a long as six weeks.

"The contractor did a little different operation," said Joe Marks, construction and survey engineer for the city. Instead of digging a trench to lay the narrow pipe of the new sanitary sewer line, the contractor bored a hole under the open lanes and inserted a pipe through it.

For the much larger storm sewer pipe, a trench will have to be dug, necessitating the shutdown, he said.

Through traffic will be diverted by detour signs at Wauwatosa Avenue (76th Street) from the east, and Swan Boulevard from the west. The detour will take cars up north to Center Street and down Wauwatosa or Swan, depending on direction of travel. North will be open to local traffic up to 90th Street from both directions, for access to local businesses and residences, but no traffic will be able to cross 90th Street. Trucks will be diverted at Mayfair from the west, and Wauwatosa Avenue from the east, and will cross on Capitol Drive. The Route 21 bus detour will be North to Swan to Center and to 88th Street, and back to North.

This is all part of a $14.4 million project, one of the largest public works project the city has ever undertaken, is designed to prevent flooding of the kind that affected 500 homes in 2009, according to the city.

Residents of Meinecke Avenue from the 8100 block to Swan Boulevard have navigated through blocked and dug-up streets at various times through the summer and will continue to do so into the fall. As the new pipelines make their way south the Menomonee River, North Avenue has been closed to one lane of traffic in each direction, backing up traffic, and the full closure of the road is explected to cause greater delays for regular users.

Beginning Oct. 22, North Avenue through-traffic will be closed at 90th Street The detour routes for eastbound cars will be north on Swan Boulevard, east on Center Street, and then south on Wauwatosa Avenue to return to North Avenue. Westbound through-traffic will run the reverse of this route.

Because trucks are prohibited on Center Street, the detour route for eastbound trucks will be north on Highway 100 (Mayfair Road) to Capitol Drive, east on Capitol Drive to 76th Street, and then back south to North Avenue. Westbound through-trucks will be able to travel the reverse of this route.

Because the actual closure of North Avenue will be at 90th Street, local cars and trucks trying to access homes and businesses east and west of the closure will be able to reach their destinations by using the open portion of North Avenue on either side of 90th Street.

Ray's Wine & Spirits, at 8930 W. North Ave., is in the thick of the construction zone. But owner Rick Laev said construction hasn't bothered him.

"Business has been fantastic, really amazing," he said. "The last three months we've been way up."

Good weather is a factor, he said, but, in planning ahead for the North Avenue closure, originally scheduled for Oct. 8, he invested in some advertising beginning Oct. 6, and that has helped propel sales.

"People have really been supporting us," understanding how road work could impact Ray's, he said.

Across the street at John's Sandwich Shop, 8913 W. North Ave., barrels partially obscure the entrance to the parking lot.

"It had been worse earlier on," said waitress Kate Higgins. "There were barrels everywhere out there, and they were doing something not even a half a block away. We didn't have less customers, but it was obvious that they had to drive around in a couple circles or go through the alleyways in back, that kind of thing."

City officials, including aldermen, have been in regular contact, business operators said.

Project changes can be tracked at www.wauwatosa.net, by clicking on "Construction News" on the left side.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 12:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19.

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