Bluemound Road Construction is Part of Zoo Interchange Plan

WisDOT representatives tell Brookfield council "there's a method to our madness" in Bluemound construction as they present the plan for the Zoo Interchange project. More Bluemound work is slated for summer.

Construction work on Bluemound Road was all part of the larger Zoo Interchange project — and another major but short-term closure on the road is scheduled this summer.

Mayor Steve Ponto told the Brookfield Common Council Tuesday night that he had seen the Zoo Interchange presentation from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), and thought it was too good not to share.

As I-94 cuts through Brookfield, and the major construction project will impact 300,000 drivers who use the interchange every day, any information is good information.

Access to trauma center important

Andy Kowske, a representative with Forward 45, explained that the initial stages of the $1.7 billion road project will involve work with the power utilities.

"This is really a power cord as much as it is a major thoroughfare for the region," Kowske said. The state will need to move the large towers that loom over the interchange first, burying much of the miles of cable in 2013 and 2014. 

The planners also stressed the interchange's importance as a link to the region's only level 1 trauma center, which has driven much of their concerns to make sure traffic access is not compromised.

"This is a main route for emergency response vehicles to Froedtert and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex, and its importance can't be overstated," said Chris Hager with WisDOT.

Some of the bridge work has also begun, with Greenfield Avenue being taken down late in January, and hoped to be ready for State Fair in August.

However, project director Roberto Gutierrez explained that the state has been "creating a box" around the entire interchange, which was originally constructed in the 1960s, to make the disruptions as painless as possible.

"There has been a method to our madness in the work that has gone on along Bluemound Road, Highway 100, Watertown Plank and Glenview or 84th Street," he said. "We wanted to ensure that the main local roads were working well in order for the alternate traffic routes to handle the increase in vehicles."

Shutdown at Bluemound and Highway 100

However, they aren't quite done with Bluemound Road, and announced that a complete intersection shutdown at Highway 100 would occur from July 20-31 this year. The good news is that the completion of that project, which includes work on an underground train tunnel, will ensure smooth east-west traffic.

Alderman Scott Berg asked the group for assurances that previous projects have led to smarter planning on this project.

"What have you learned from what you've encountered with other projects to make sure this project goes smoothly?" he asked.

Gutierrez explained, "We've taken back the best practices from the local road and other interstate projects and have put them into this project. What will be key is communication with the public."

The bulk of the work on the actual roadways will take place between 2015 and 2018, but planners say state budgets and funding could stretch out the timeline on some portions of the project for an additional two to three years. Compared to the Marquette Interchange project, this will involve nearly twice the cost, area and time to complete.

For motorists who want to be prepared, there is a dedicated website to this project specifically, zoointerchange.wi.gov. It includes some of the following links:

Reminders for bridge, lane and local road closures will be announced as well as each event occurs.


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