Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House celebrate pedestrian sky bridge opening

Representatives from the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the Ronald McDonald House and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, along with patients and their families, gathered on Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the new Watertown Plank Road pedestrian sky bridge in Wauwatosa.

The 149-foot-long bridge was built in order to provide a safe passageway for patients, families and staff traveling between the Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. According to the Children’s Hospital, more than 210,660 family members staying at the Ronald McDonald House will walk over the bridge in the next year and more than six million vehicles will pass under it.

“It will be helpful having a safe place to cross,” said Tiffany Spoor of Oakfield, who was in attendance at Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting event with her 3-year-old daughter, Lydia, a regular patient at the Children’s Hospital. “It’s a busy road, and I remember many times wrangling my two older girls and trying to control my emotions going to the hospital. It was one more burden for families who have sick children at the hospital.” 

Ann Petrie, president of the Ronald McDonald House, said patients previously had to walk through an unmarked intersection or wait for a transport van, and the opening of the bridge represents the culmination of years of planning, constructing and wishing for a safe passageway.

Ronald McDonald hands a cookie to Children’s Hospital patient Lydia Spoor at Tuesday’s ribbon cutting.

“I see this bridge as a tangible example of our partnership with the Ronald McDonald House and signifies the very good work that can be done when the private and public sectors get together to ensure the best care for patients and families,” added Cindy Christensen, the president of the Children’s Hospital.

The total cost of the bridge, including the approaches and stair towers, was $4.46 million, according to Kurt Flierl, a construction project manager at the DOT.

It was designed by the DOT and its consultant, Forward 45, as part of the Zoo Interchange construction project. Construction began in the fall of 2013.

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