Don't leave me Hoany McBridge.
Don't leave me Hoany McBridge.

No Hoan Bridge?

It seems "they" are talking about blowing up the Hoan Bridge. And I don't mean the terrorists. I mean the state DOT. (OK, I can hear the talkbacks already!)

On Monday, the Business Journal reported that the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation is studying the feasability of removing the Hoan Bridge and replacing it with an I-794 at surface level. Bridges over the Milwaukee and Kinnickinnic Rivers would connect the Lake Parkway to Downtown.

"We’re looking at the feasibility of tearing (the Hoan Bridge) down because the cost of rehabilitation is astronomical,  Frank Busalacchi, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, told the paper.

For years, the Hoan Bridge was a symbol of poor urban and freeway planning. For years, it stood like a giant, but inept sentinel, over the Milwaukee Harbor; a useless pile of concrete and steel that frustrated drivers could only look -- and shake their fists -- at.

Ramps on its north end were famous for one thing: a brief appearance in "The Blues Brothers" movie. The south end was distinguished by the fact that it was closed. 

The Hoan Bridge was the punch line in a city that was in no mood for jokes as industry tanked and jobs vanished.

But, despite the thundering plud of a massive section of bridge in 2000 -- that, amazingly, led to no injuries -- Milwaukeeans took back the Hoan Bridge and made it a symbol of the city. And it was named for one of the great mayors of Milwaukee's Sewer Socialist tradition.

Instead of the bridge to nowhere, the Hoan Bridge became the bridge to the city's hottest neighborhood -- Bay View -- and it symbolized our connections and our reaching out across three rivers to create a unified city.

Now, "they" are talking about knocking it down. While I agree, objectively, that a structure much lower to the ground -- one that does not demand so much of our attention as we gaze lake-ward -- would be an improvement to the skyline, removing the Hoan Bridge now would be to deprive us of a grand symbol ... our own Eiffel Tower, or maybe more appropriately, our own leaning tower of Pisa.

Sure, maybe "they" should never  have built it in the first place. Or maybe "they" should have recognized the mistake and blasted it into oblivion in 1976. (The bridge opened to traffic in 1977 and 20 years later it was connected to the Lake Parkway.)

But as Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose sang  in 1972, the same year construction of the Hoan Bridge was completed, "It's too late to turn back now. I believe, I believe, I believe I'm falling in love."

Talkbacks

dlynch | Jan. 14, 2009 at 3:50 p.m. (report)

Tear her down and Slap up condos eh. well we got enough, they already ruined the view of our mighty lake michigan down in st francis with condos. I had to drive it every day on the way to high school, And each time it was the highlight of my day.

ITs been said, This bridge is our Eifel tower,our arc, look at the top of your screen and see what beautifly caps the Onmilwaukee logo.

So many memories smelting, grilling, fishing, smooching under it.
When im at summerfest, its the one thing(Other than beer) that keeps us from boiling over. It provides the shade summerfest needs, Esp B and S's big backyard.

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blaschko21 | Aug. 29, 2008 at 11:39 a.m. (report)

I also live dwtn and only use the Hoan to get to the airport and Bayview.

I say tear that sucker down, and use a consider less sum of money to invest in a light rail that goes from the Intermodal Station to Bayview and the airport...drivers can use 94 to get to BV and the airport.

What do ya'll think?

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DowntownRed | Aug. 27, 2008 at 11:50 p.m. (report)

When I moved here four years ago, I was always puzzled by this bridge. After looking at the area, I realized it's that high for ship traffic. But if there is no more ship traffic, the design of the bridge is not right. I live downtown and use the bridge to/from the airport every week. It's really starting to look worn down and they are really doing a patchwork of repairs. Almost as if "they" know it's coming down soon.

If it opens up land for development (park, condos, whatever), I say tear it down. Cities always have emotional connections to their bridges. Even when an older one with several arches is replaced by a simpler straight one, there is always a vocal response. I would like to see a lower tension-stay bridge replace the Hoan. It would still provide a great view of downtown and be better looking. The current Hoan bridge looks like the engineering team give it to the new guy as a first project.

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AverageGuy | Aug. 27, 2008 at 8:35 a.m. (report)

Also as a resident of Downtown-leave it. Has anyone been over there lately? We ran out of salt last winter, where are we going to put it when the bridge is gone? The sweet smell of Milorganite? Who's going to volunteer that go in their back yard?

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CoolerKing | Aug. 27, 2008 at 7:44 a.m. (report)

It seems like the Hoan had it's purpose when the Marquette interchange was all torn up. No complaints then. Now it needs rehabbing and could cost money? Come on! Look how long it took to finally finish that bridge. Then blow up a section and reconstruct it. I've had no problems with this bridge and liked it even more when the Lake Park freeway was added on. I actually wouldn't mind seeing DOT money spent on arterial boulevards like the Lake Park freeway cutting through town. It's got nice aesthetics and it's functional.

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