By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Apr 09, 2002 at 5:45 AM

The first phase of the demolition of the Park East Freeway spur started last week as workers began to build a temporary ramp from 6th Street to the Hillside Interchange.

The removal of the freeway spur will open up about 26 acres for redevelopment, which is expected to bring about $250 million in new investment to the city, said John Bratina, spokesman for the Department of City Development. New developments could include a new hotel and a remodeled warehouse condominium development. Also, removal of the spur may help redevelopment plans for the Pabst Brewery complex.


It also could help push redevelopment efforts along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, said Bryan Haywood, director of the King Drive Business Improvement District. Without the freeway, Haywood expects more traffic along King Drive -- and more customers.

"The removal of this physical barrier that separates downtown from King Drive is going to create a domino effect for us," Haywood said. "The new development it will spark will bring business to King Drive. Construction workers will come to our restaurants to eat, more people will be driving through, and people are going to get curious about what we have to offer."

That includes one of the latest King Drive projects, a new three-story retail/residential building that will feature loft apartments and Bean Head Coffee, an Internet café. The building will be located at 1833 N. King Dr., and construction is scheduled to begin in middle to late summer. The project will be funded in part by a $25,000 grant from the city, Haywood said.

When demolition of the westbound freeway begins in June, all traffic will be moved to the eastbound lanes, Bratina said. Eastbound traffic will continue to exit at 4th, Broadway and Jefferson Streets. Westbound traffic will exit at Hwy 145 at the former eastbound on-ramp at 6th Street, continue on the temporary roadway and connect to existing westbound Hwy 145.

Major phases of the project:

April to May 2002: construction of a temporary ramp
June to September 2002: demolition of westbound lanes (north bridge)
June 2002 to December 2003: construction of a new roadway west of the Milwaukee River
August 2002 to December 2003: construction of Knapp Street Bridge
January to April 2003: demolition of eastbound lanes (south bridge)
March to November 2003: modifications to roadways east of the Milwaukee River
December 2003: Knapp Street Bridge and roadway open to traffic

Updates on street and ramp closures will occur regularly on the city website, To receive e-mails with project updates, send an e-mail to