By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Mar 31, 2010 at 4:20 PM

State Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi announced this afternoon that the northbound U.S. 45 bridge through the Zoo Interchange will open at 5 a.m. Friday.

The original bridge was closed last week after inspectors discovered growing cracks and damage to the bridge  which carries roughly 45,000 vehicles a day.

Weight limits were imposed on the bridge last year and, in the fall, work began on building a temporary replacement for that bridge -- and two others in the aging interchange -- but the process was expedited after last week's closure. 

"Thanks to hard work and teamwork, we were able to open the bridge in just one week," Busalacchi said at a press conference. "Milwaukee Constructors worked night and day to make this happen."

Busalacchi  also downplayed the role of politics in the project, after both County Executive Scott Walker and Mayor Tom Barrett's camps pointed fingers at each other for the decision to rebuild the north-south I-94 corridor before rebuilding the Zoo Interchange.

 "Some have alleged that work in the Zoo was delayed to rebuild I-94 and that is completely false," Busalacchi said. "Engineers and people who have been a part of the planning can tell you that the Zoo Interchange project was never delayed; politics never played a part.

"No work was done on the Zoo Interchange by previous administrations. No planning, no prep work, no environmental work ... nothing was done.

"Only after I became secretary in 2003 did any work get done on the Zoo Interchange." 

Work will continue on two other temporary replacement bridges in the interchange. Those are still on track to open in time for Memorial Day Weekend.