West Allis — The Interstate 94 freeway ramps and streets around the fair are open to handle the surge of traffic starting Thursday with the opening of the 11-day Wisconsin State Fair.
That's a relief to West Allis Mayor Dan Devine who said, "They told us several times that it all would be open."
Freeway ramps at 84th Street have been closed for the massive Zoo Interchange rehabilitation project, as has the crucial Kearney Avenue that takes traffic coming from the west and exiting at 84th Street into the north end of the fair. The fair extends from 84th to 76th streets.
What will not be open is the 76th Street bridge over Interstate 94, a major route from the north to the fair's 76th Street entrance and to the fair entrance on Greenfield Avenue.
Instead, fair officials recommend taking 70th Street south to Greenfield Avenue and entering at 78th Street.
Similarly, they advise those driving to the fair on I-94 to exit at 68/70 and take O'Connor Street west to 70th Street, swinging south under the freeway on 70th and entering the fair on Greenfield.
Police doubt there will be backups from drivers missing the 68/70 exit.
"The DOT will have the area heavily signed so there shouldn't be an issue," said Lt. Todd Clementi who is helping coordinate State Fair traffic issues for the West Allis police.
With the 84th Street freeway ramps and Kearney Avenue open, Deputy West Allis Police Chief Robert Fletcher said, "We're not expecting major problems."
However, West Allis will have more police in the area who can handle difficulties if they do occur, he said. The normal traffic slow down around construction will likely be the only problem this year, not access to the fair, Fletcher predicted.
At the fair itself, the normal right-hand-only turns will be enforced, creating the clockwise circulation around the fair that has been the norm for many years. For the first time, though, left turns into the fair will be allowed on 76th Street.
Because of construction of a box culvert, the fair will lose about 100 parking spaces at the north end. If the north lot is full, fair officials recommend traffic go east on Kearney Avenue and turn right on 76th Street to enter the fair parking lot there.
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