By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 17, 2020 at 1:05 PM

This morning Mayor Tom Barrett announced – as Alds. Jose Perez and Robert Baumann, and other dignitaries looked on – that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will provide $23.3 million toward a complete rebuilding of a roughly 2.5-mile stretch National Avenue, from South 1st through South 39th Streets.

The street, which is as Wisconsin Highway 59 is designated as a Connecting Highway.

According to City of Milwaukee spokesman Brian DeNeve, typical Connecting Highway reconstruction projects get about $5 or $6 million from the state. Last year’s Chase Avenue reconstruction has been the largest such project to date, costing $10 million.

The project, which according to Milwaukee Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Polenske, will see the roadway and sidewalks completely reconstructed, will also make use of $1.4 million in local matching funds.

"National Avenue is at or near the end of its useful life," said Dewayne Johnson, who is the director of the Southeast Region at the WisDOT, at the announcement, which took place at the corner of 7th and National on Monday morning.

The project is slated to bid out in 2025, with construction likely beginning in 2026 and taking place across two construction seasons to minimize impact. The project is expected to be complete in 2027.

The City of Milwaukee will use the opportunity to bring its "Complete Streets" approach to the long stretch of National Avenue, said Polenske.

"It’s a real opportunity to apply the Complete Streets idea that we try to apply to all projects," he said. "We want to make sure to accommodate all users."

According to the City of Milwaukee website, "Complete Streets integrate people and place by making it safe, enjoyable, and convenient to walk, bike, take transit or simply experience our streets and public spaces – no matter one's age or ability.

"There is no singular design for a Complete Street; a quiet residential street may already function well for all people, whereas a busy commercial corridor may require wider sidewalks, curb extensions, and protected bike lanes. A Complete Streets approach integrates people and place into all phases of a project, from planning and design through construction."

In 2018, Milwaukee received national recognition for the policy.

De Neve said that the city will seek public input between now and the projected beginning of the project.

"We’re very very pleased for the businesses, the residents and the community groups that operate along National Avenue because it’s going to be a big enhancement," said Barrett, who credited Gov. Tony Evers for directing the funds to Milwaukee.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.