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New Greenfield Avenue bridge won't end West Allis headaches

Officials warn of other traffic issues tied to Zoo Interchange work

July 9, 2013

West Allis — Traffic-fatigued drivers who are anxiously waiting for the July 19 reopening of the Greenfield Avenue bridge over Interstate 894/U.S. Highway 45 may not see the immediate relief they crave.

Although the bridge is expected to ready by that date and all traffic lanes will be open, lane restrictions leading up to the bridge from 101st to 106th streets will continue until the following week, said Emlynn Grisar, public information officer with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Not all the freeway ramps to and from Greenfield Avenue will be open, either. Initially, the only on-ramp will be for drivers headed west on Greenfield Avenue who want to go north, Grisar said.

Drivers on the freeway will be able to get off, but in one direction only on Greenfield Avenue. Northbound drivers will be able to go east. Southbound drivers will be able to go west, Grisar said.

But all that will be just temporary. All lanes and ramps will be open by July 26, she said, and traffic flows on the freeway underneath the bridge also will be back to normal by July 26.

Greenfield Avenue, a major artery through West Allis, has been cut in two by the bridge closure for about five months. While the bridge opening will reconnect that artery, it isn't exactly smooth sailing ahead.

Following the bridge opening, the DOT plans to close the Highway 100/Bluemound Road intersection, throwing traffic onto Greenfield Avenue and other collateral streets, said Peter Daniels, West Allis principal engineer.

"The bridge won't be able to carry all the cars it used to," Daniels said. "Now (with additional roadwork) it's expected to operate at twice its capacity."

He advises drivers who have been avoided Greenfield Avenue because of the bridge closure to still keep away from it while the Highway 100/Bluemound Road intersection work is done. Local officials have been told that should take 13 days, he said.

Daniels suggested sticking with Lincoln, National and Oklahoma avenues to get over I-894. Interstate 94 also takes drivers past I-894.

The DOT has helped West Allis deal with congestion due to the road work by helping retime traffic lights favoring detour traffic, he said.

The work is all related to the massive Zoo Interchange upgrade. Before the bulk of the interchange work can be done, the DOT is building what amounts to a "box" around it of streets that people can take around the interchange, Daniels said. The box involves Greenfield Avenue, Watertown Plank Road, 84th Street and Highway 100.

When the DOT is done with the box, it can start taking the Zoo Interchange apart, Daniels said. That work is currently slated for 2015 through 2018.

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