Downtown drivers, pedestrians and cyclists rejoice! After being closed for nine months, the Wells Street Bridge is expected to open today by 5 p.m., when work is scheduled to wrap up on rehabilitation of the bridge.
The vertical lift bridge over the Milwaukee River closed to traffic of all kinds on March 5 and spent much of the past few months in the open position to allow river traffic to pass below, while workers upgraded structural, hydraulic, mechanical and electrical components.
The Department of Public Works also replaced gutters, curbs and sidewalk slabs as necessary.
Visitors will be pleased to find full access restored to the Bronze Fonz once the Wells Street sidewalk is reopened. During construction it was only possible to reach the statue from the Riverwalk via Mason Street.
The re-opened bridge will have railings (pictured above) between the roadway and sidewalks to protect pedestrians. There will be 11-foot-wide driving lanes in each director as well as bike plates (pictured below) to smooth the ride over the grated road surface.
The current bridge was constructed in 1985. At that time, the existing bridge house was sold and moved to a South Side backyard, where it still stands. You can read a story about that here.
The upgrades to the bridge were funded by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the City of Milwaukee DPW.
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 OnMilwaukee.com 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.