Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.
Milwaukee Magazine ran a story in its November issue (I know, I know. It's still October) calling for the Hoan Bridge to be torn down (complete with exclamation point).
What the article didn't have were answers to questions raised in public meetings Milwaukee County Supervisor Patricia Jursik held in South Millwaukee and Cudahy during the summer. Question such as:
1) Why are tear-down activists going to the Department of Transportaion (DOT cited repeatedly in the MM article) and bypassing the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, which Jursik says is the transportation-planning agency for southeast Wisconsin (not mentioned in the MM piece)?
2) Where is the SWRPC in all of this? What is that agency's position?
3) Estimated cost to "redeck" (remove and replace the pavement and steel supporters and repaint the superstructure) the Hoan in the next four years and extend its life out to about 2050 is between $200 million and $250 million. Estimate to replace the bridge in 2050 -- 40 years from now -- is $2 billion to $3 billion (a spread of $1 billion -- an estimate so inexact that the range from low to high ends is about 1/3 of the total). The estimate to build a replacement "lift" bridge -- one that would be some 80 feet lower than the existing bridge with a section that would have to be raised for lake-Port of Milwaukee shipping traffic that needs more than a 40-foot clearance -- is $220 million. So, does that $220 million include the cost of tearing down and hauling off the debris of the Hoan?
4) Given that the proposal would result in the 794 losing Interstate designation, how much in federal funding would be lost and become a local tax burden?
5) With tear-down proponents envisioning the freed-up waterfront property being available to be developed for commercial use, condos, parkland and more, will an environmental impact study be required, given the industrial and salt-storage use that land has hosted over the years? Is an estimate available for the cost of such a study?
6) Should it be determined that the property needs detoxification and decontamination before it can be developed for commercial, residential and recreational use, is an estimate available for what that would cost?
7) What would the personnel costs associated with monitoring the bridge and raising and lowering the lift section be?
8) What would the maintenance costs of keeping the lift section mechanics functioning and safe be?
9) The MM piece says a replacement bridge would still span the sewage plant that sits beneath the Hoan and emits such a stench at times my young grandchildren hold their noses and exclaim about it when we drive over it. How would that odor be mitigated to the satisfaction of the sewage plant's envisioned new residential and commercial neighbors?
10) An estimate of six minutes is cited as the time motorists would be delayed by the lift section to be raised for lake shipping to get into or out of the Port of Milwaukee. I'm trying to envision traffic signals changing, cross arms or other barriers lowering into place, the lift section being raised, an ocean-going vessel moving through and clearing the bridge, the lift section being lowered and traffic barriers being raised all accomplished in just six minutes. Is six minutes really realistic for all of that to occur?
11) A lift bridge would have to be raised only, on average, one time a day, according to the DOT report. Is that average spread out over every day of an entire year? Does lake shipping and the Port of Milwaukee operate 365 days a year, including weekends, holidays and throughout the winter? If not, then the actual number of "lifts" would be more than one per day.
12) Given that parks in Milwaukee County are deteriorating for lack of adequate funding -- parks' budgets have remained flat since 1983 -- that's 25 years -- and are suffering from $200 million in deferred maintenance, according to Friends of Grant Park Chair Don Lawson, where will the money come from to maintain the new parkland envisioned in the lift-bridge development plan?
13) What would be the impact of what sounds like the gentrification of the area in question on the Port of Milwaukee as a major transportation and road-salt distribution center?
14) What are the pros and cons people have encountered in other locales that have lift bridges on main arteries into or out of a city?
15) Would the envisioned economic boon lift-bridge proponents enumerate offset the cost of building a lift bridge, plus the other costs that are not included in their discussions, if, in fact, all the hurdles could be cleared?