$21.5 million grant starts work on Park East Corridor lift bridges

Work can begin on two Park East Corridor lift bridges in downtown Milwaukee with the signing of a $21.5 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a.k.a. “the stimulus,” grant agreement, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

The signing took place Dec. 7 between the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the City of Milwaukee.

The money will go toward contracts to reconstruct the Juneau Avenue Bridge and to rehabilitate the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge, improving access to the city’s downtown area across the Milwaukee River. The lift bridges are important to the transportation system and represent key connections for Milwaukee residents who commute to work.

“The Recovery Act is creating jobs and providing real transportation improvements right here in Milwaukee,” LaHood said in a pres statement. “It’s all part of making communities work better for those who live in Milwaukee, while simultaneously investing in our nation’s infrastructure.”

FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez says that improvements to the Juneau Avenue and Wisconsin Avenues bridges will make it easier for residents to get around the city and will improve the quality of life in and around Milwaukee.

The Juneau Avenue Bridge was built in 1953 and connects residents to one of the most vital employment areas in downtown Milwaukee. The deteriorating superstructure and decks require the complete reconstruction of the bridge.

The Wisconsin Avenue Bridge is a major urban connector within the central business district, linking high employment areas east of the river with Grand Avenue and the Marquette University campus located west of the river. Wisconsin Avenue is also the city’s primary transit corridor, with eight different bus routes crossing the bridge.

At the total project cost of $30 million, the new Juneau Avenue Bridge will have a life expectancy of 75 years. The Wisconsin Avenue Bridge rehabilitation will add 45 years of service to the existing bridge.

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The $21.5 million grant was awarded under the Recovery Act’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program. TIGER funding is designed to promote innovative, multimodal and multijurisdictional transportation projects that provide significant economic and environmental benefits to an entire metropolitan area, region or the nation.

The Department announced the selection of $1.5 billion worth of TIGER grants for 51 projects as part of the one-year anniversary of ARRA on Feb. 17.