By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jan 03, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Here at, we take pride in being Milwaukee experts. Since it is literally our job to eat, sleep and breathe all things Brew City, we get many questions from our readers.

This is where we answer them.

In the "Ask OMC" series, we take your questions -- big or small -- and track down the answers. Send your query to Be sure to include your name and location, and we will consider it for our next installment.

Our current question comes from Bob in North Prairie, who writes:

"I drive through the Zoo Interchange twice a day nearly every day. When does construction start and how badly is it going to screw up my life?"

Well, Bob, we have good news and bad news....

The good news is that reconstruction of three 40-year-old bridges in the Zoo Interchange -- the busiest highway interchange in the state -- begins Monday and shouldn't change your commute too much because construction will be "tight" to the current footprint. Officials expect a lot of the lane closures to happen at night and on weekends. They also hope to have work completed by Memorial Day, weather permitting, at a cost of roughly $15 million.

The bad news is that this is being regarded as a temporary fix until there is enough funding to rebuild the entire interchange -- a project that could rival the Marquette Interchange in terms of cost, length and commuter inconvenience.

Milwaukee Constructors LLC, made up of Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc., Lunda Construction Co. and Zenith Tech -- the same three contractors who teamed together for the Marquette Interchange project -- received the contract to do the work. (They were the only group to submit a bid).

The original price tag was $11 million, but it went up because the Department of Transportation wanted to limit ramp and lane closures. Under the current plan, the bridges being replaced and the ramps below will be fully closed on only one weekend (per bridge/ramp).

Traffic will be restricted to single lanes and routed onto the shoulders primarily during nighttime hours.

The Zoo Interchange on the west edge of Milwaukee connects I-94 and I-894/U.S. Highway 45, major east-west and north-south routes for commuters and commercial traffic in the state. Roughly 350,000 vehicles pass through daily.

This summer, inspections revealed severe cracks in concrete, corrosion in steel reinforcing bars and other damage that prompted replacing the bridges despite the fact that a complete overhaul is anticipated at some point in the next decade.

The new bridges will replace the span that carries traffic northbound on Highway 45 through the interchange, the ramp carrying traffic from northbound Highway 45 to westbound I-94 and the ramp connecting southbound Highway 45 to eastbound I-94.