Center Street Bridge Reconstruction
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Getting to school is almost nobody’s favorite part of the day, and recent events have made the commute just a little bit harder.
Early Monday January 25th, the Center Street bridge, which runs over 1-94, was closed to all traffic, cycles, and pedestrians. Since Monday, preparations have been underway to prepare the bridge for the first stage of demolition, which will take place on Friday January 29th at 10 pm to Saturday January 30th at 10 am. Demolition will resume Saturday January 30th at 10 pm and is scheduled to finsih Sunday January 31st at 10 am. During those periods of time, both north and southbound lanes of I -94 will be fully closed.
The closure is the fourth installment of the multi-year, multi-part Zoo interchange project. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the portion of the Zoo project involving the Center Street bridge and the highway beneath, aims at reconstructing and widening 1-94 in preparation for the anticipated traffic volume in the future. While The DOT believes the bridge will cause a lot of benefits in the long run, many students at Tosa West are not so happy about the long-term project coming their way.
“I have to go around and it sucks. I have my way of getting to school and I liked how I used to get over the bridge,” said senior Alex Lee.
Many students at Tosa West are finding it hard to get to school in the morning on time with all the rerouting that has been caused by the bridge closing.
“I was really scared about being late the first couple days. I don’t want to be marked tardy for something that I can’t control,” sophomore Hailey Wilson stated.
Due to the reroute, many students were finding it hard to get to their first hour class on time. Principal Frank Calarco and the rest of the Wauwatosa West administration understood the issue and allowed student to be excused tardy to their first hour class all week long.
“We wanted to give parents and students a full week to adjust to the new traveling schedule, and it’s gotten better every day,” said Calarco. He said that tardies have improved at both Eisenhower and Whitman as well.
Calarco even finds some benefit to this entire project taking place in the middle of the school year.
“I think this another great life long lesson for our young adults here at West. you have to be flexible. there are some people who are up in arms about how could you do this during the school year, well they can’t get it done over the summer and it has to get done. You have to react and be flexible and try to be proactive; and so, for our students, this may happen to you as a grownup, where all the sudden you have to make adjustments to get to your job 15 minutes earlier,” Calarco stated.
While some may see this project in a positive light, others still are rather upset.
Some students even started a hashtag on Twitter, #savethebridge. While it started as a joke, people at Tosa West have really embraced the idea.
“It kind of caught fire. We got teachers chanting it in the lunchroom,” said Lee, the founder of the hashtag.
Lee, along with the others who have been perpetuating the hashtag don’t quite know where it is headed.
“It could go two ways, my parents told me not to make it a real thing … I do kinda want to just go overboard and maybe protest Madison. And we’re not sure what’s gonna happen, but the spirit will live on … It’s kinda of an ani-the-man spirit,” said Lee.
The Department of Transportation understand the upset that the students are feeling.
“What we have found out and what’s generally the case anytime we are about to embark on a large project, whether it’s the zoo interchange project or any project across the region, before you start the project there is generally some apprehension, and justifiably so, it’s something different you have to change your plans. You’re moving into areas that are unfamiliar to you as far as when do i have to leave what’s my alternate route, what can i do,” said Pyritz. In addition, the Department of Transportation has tried to smooth over the transition and attempt to make things easier for students at Tosa West, Whitman, and Eisenhower, among which was creating a drop off location just south of Burleigh, as well as reconstructing the pedestrian bridge that crosses I-94 just north of the Center Street bridge.
“Now students from Whitman, West, Eisenhower, that need to transverse back and forth have a safe and efficient way to do so while we are reconstructing the Center Street bridge,” said Pyritz.
While people are still adjusting to the whole new system, Pyritz said that people will soon begin to get used to the new way of doing things.
“People generally adjust fairly well after about the first week or two of the project and by the time it’s done they are like woah, that’s fantastic.”
The Department of Transportation does have some advice for everyone as they adjust to the bridge closure.
“The best advice I can have is, plan ahead, leave a little extra early, adjust your schedule accordingly, and you know remain patient. You know everybody who’s dropping off their kids and picking up their kids they are all in it together. You know, the bus drivers that are coming and going for the sporting events, they have to adjust to it as well.”
Further bridges will be under reconstruction in the future. The North Ave bridge as well as the structure over Highway 100 North of Watertown Plank will be rebuilt.
For any addition information about the zoo interchange project go to: http://zooic.org
There you can also sign up for updates that are specific to the Zoo project, as well as look at the weekly construction forecast.
For any traffic information visit: http://511wi.gov
There you can find information about travel times and any accidents that may have occurred.