The Hoan Bridge is a valuable thoroughfare

    Editor’s Note: The following is the text of a letter to Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi from Thomas Rave, executive director of The Gateway To Milwaukee, an organization which is an advocate for business development near General Mitchell International Airport.

    RE:  Potential elimination of the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee

    Dear Secretary Busalacchi,
    Over the 3-1/2 years of the existence of the Airport Gateway Business Association, we believe that we have developed a good working relationship with the Department of Transportation associates in southeast Wisconsin. This has occurred through contributing to the plans for the reconstruction of I-94 and the Layton Avenue ramps in particular.

    Our mission is to stimulate the vitality of the areas around Milwaukee’s airport.  Promoting it as The Gateway To Milwaukee, we have come to recognize that this area around General Mitchell International Airport is the primary welcoming and transportation hub of greater Milwaukee. We have also learned that a number of cities in the U.S. and around the world are using their airport areas as a key hub for economic development. These developments are based on the increasing need for speed and accessibility in the business world and this view is driving our activities for The Gateway To Milwaukee.

    As the DOT evaluates the alternatives regarding the Hoan Bridge, we respectfully ask that the business needs for speed and accessibility be remembered when considering these comments:

    (1) Using the 794 Parkway between the Airport areas and downtown offers a quicker and shorter alternative than using I-94, especially for the suburbs in southeastern Milwaukee County. It is a substantial alternative to I-94 and important to have two choices between downtown and The Gateway areas and many drivers have become used to this eastern route.

    (2) The one stop light on the 794 Parkway currently has substantial backups during rush hour. If more delays arose, such as waiting for bridges to become accessible to go over the river entrance to Lake Michigan, use of the Parkway would probably decline.

    (3) Much of the business traffic in The Gateway To Milwaukee, which includes a substantial amount of trucks, would probably have less flexibility but spend more time and expense in going west to I-94. If they had to wait for bridges to close and open, precious time is wasted and idling trucks are not healthy. Having only one primary roadway would seem like a step backward.

    (4) Using the 794 Parkway to I-794 and then to I-94/I-43 is a good alternative to using only I-94 on the west side of The Gateway.

    (5) Finally, we ran a small, unscientific poll among our web site’s readers about the Hoan Bridge coming down. Among 64 voters, it was a 4 to 1 ratio against it coming down.


    In addition to the speed and accessibility factors, Secretary Busalacchi, there is a sales feature to consider. When entities such as Milwaukee 7, VISIT Milwaukee and Spirit of Milwaukee are introducing newcomers to the area, they intentionally take people along the 794 Parkway and over the Hoan Bridge. The view of Milwaukee and its lakefront is spectacular. There is no other view like this in the area and it real helps welcome people to Milwaukee. First impressions are so important.

    Admittedly, there are many other factors and costs to consider about this subject of which we are unaware, and we look forward to their being made available. At the same time, however, we sincerely hope that speed and accessibility will be significant factors during the evaluation process. They are critical to Milwaukee’s business success in the future.

    This is being sent with the unanimous support of our Board of Directors.


    Thomas A. Rave
    Executive Director
    The Gateway To Milwaukee

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