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Road project serves as a lesson in patience in West Allis

School makes do as 87th Street reconstruction continues

Families cross an unfinished 87th Street along Orchard Street in front of Wilson School at the end of classes on Sept. 5. The ongoing road project has made access to and from the school difficult since the beginning of the school year.

Families cross an unfinished 87th Street along Orchard Street in front of Wilson School at the end of classes on Sept. 5. The ongoing road project has made access to and from the school difficult since the beginning of the school year. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Sept. 10, 2013

West Allis — Some Wilson Elementary School parents are walking farther to take their children to school and some kids who used to be dropped off are walking to school instead, all because 87th Street road reconstruction wasn't done on time.

The city had planned on having 87th Street, which was torn up between Greenfield Avenue and Mitchell Street, finished by the start of school. But the state's road project on Greenfield Avenue forced a change when that timeline was moved up.

The road crew that was working on 87th switched over to Greenfield Avenue for related work, said Peter Daniels, West Allis principal engineer.

The decision was based in safety reasons — city officials wanted the huge numbers of drivers on Greenfield Avenue to encounter the least amount of risk due to the construction, Daniels said.

However, because of the resulting loss in construction time, 87th Street was still torn up when Wilson Elementary School, 8710 W. Orchard St., opened for the school year.

But things haven't turned out as was originally feared, said Principal Mary Gottinger.

One concern was that all of the teachers would have to compete for the limited parking on streets around the school. However, thanks to the construction company working on the road, that wasn't necessary.

"They accommodated us by putting another entrance to our lot," Gottinger said.

While teachers still have to drive over gravel to get to the lot, they don't have to hunt for parking.

Knowing the 87th Street is a favorite of parents for dropping off their children, the school did a strenuous education effort to suggest alternatives, she said.

Thankful for the reasonably good weather for parents and children who now walk farther to school, Gottinger said everyone has been understanding and patient.

That patience will likely have to last another month, Daniels said, until the road work and related landscaping are complete.

While the 87th Street project can be a twice-a-day inconvenience for parents and teachers, it's a constant problem for neoghborhood residents who normally park their cars on that street.

To help out, the school has made its lot available to neighbors in the evenings. But even that has its problems as construction vehicles sometimes block the entrance, Gottinger said.

"It has been a little challenging," she said. "But I'm amazed and happy that everybody is flexible and accommodating."

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