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City Won't Let North Ave. Holiday Business Down, Mayor Says

If work has progressed far enough on Meinecke Project, contractors will be told to shut down finishing work, fill in and open the avenue to traffic, Kathy Ehley says.

 

A postponement in the closing of North Avenue for major sewer work will not impede upon critical holiday business for retailers if there's anything the city can do to avoid it, the mayor of Wauwatosa says.

Rather than let a detour derail holiday shopping traffic, Mayor Kathy Ehley told Wauwatosa Patch, if necessary, the work will be shut down and the street opened before Thanksgiving.

Finishing the Meinecke Avenue sewer work at the intersection of North and 90th Street can be completed later, after the big holiday rush, Ehley said – provided the work is far enough along.

"We will do everything we can to make sure North Avenue is open," Ehley said. "Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we will not let those businesses suffer during the most important time of their year."

Work on the Meinecke project has progressed ahead of schedule, but the closing of North Avenue has become the all-important piece of the puzzle.

To connect the sewer remediation being done in a flood-prone neighborhood around Meinecke with the outfall at 90th and Menomonee River Parkway, a huge trench has to be dug across North Avenue.

It will take four to six weeks for that trench to be dug, the pipes laid – including sanitary sewer lines, a massive storm sewer pipe, plus water lines and other utilities – and then the trench refilled and the street made passable to traffic.

A detour will take traffic north on Swan Boulevard, across West Center Street, and down Wauwatosa Avenue/North 76th Street.

The closing of North was originally scheduled for Monday, but now won't come until mid- to late October. If bad weather comes, the closure could last longer, city engineer Bill Wehrley said.

That could take construction into the most profitable time of the year for businesses on North Avenue – the day after Thanksgiving, known as "Black Friday," is the biggest shopping day of all.

But if the work is far enough along, Ehley said – if all the critical project infrastructure is in place, the pipe laid and connected, and only repaving left to be done – then the city will order contractors to fill in the intersection, make it passable, and finish later.

"We're not going to let that business district be closed off if there's any way we can help it," Ehley said.

It's possible all the work could be completed, if the minimum schedule of four weeks comes to pass. If it were to go to the outside of six weeks, though, it would pass the Thanksgiving deadline – Nov. 22, the earliest the holiday can possibly fall.

Ehley said that before that date, long enough to ensure not only Christmas but also pre-Thanksgiving holiday shopping is open, the city will ask contractors to button up their work – and take a holiday of their own.

Betty October 08, 2012 at 12:40 PM
"Finish the work later." Later when? When snow banks already narrow the detour routes? Look back at the repaving debacle the 2500 block of 89th Street. Pouring concrete and repaving the road didn't work too well in December when the snow was falling. All that work had to be redone the following spring, creating another headache for all those in the area.
H.E. Pennypacker October 08, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Incompetence again in the halls of Tosa. They should be working 24/7 to get it done instead of pushing it out until the spring, 2013. Ehley, like the rest of the lard asses at CIty Hall, have no clue what they are doing.
Random Blog Commenter October 08, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Mr. Price is doing a fine job of creating the perception of a looming disaster and city is making the dutiful appearance of jumping through the correct hoops. While he is generally informative, Mr. Price does know how make a story bigger than it truly is, which probably makes sense for the business plan of a free, online newspaper that needs eyeballs on the screen. Much like Star Trek's Scotty having the Enterprise fixed just in time to save the day, the contractors will have North Ave in passable shape for the shopping season.
Jim Price October 08, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Yes, RBC, and I would suggest that if these stories do in fact help spur the city to spur the contractors to finish this work on time, then I will have done well my fundamental job as a journalist – shining the light.
Larry Pesch October 08, 2012 at 08:07 PM
As a 90th street resident right in the middle of the carnage, I hope any concerns with the business interests on North Avenue do not delay work on 90th Street north and south. I have a hole the size of the Grand Canyon in our front yard, a once beautiful street that is now a complete shambles, and concerns about safety, parking, movement etc. for my fellow neighbors. As winter hits, I wonder how some of my neighbors will be able to navigate the construction. This entire project has been put on the backs of citizens who live along 90th Street and Meinecke Street. It is so good to hear the Mayor, along with the other city hall bureaucrats, do not want businsses along North Avenue to suffer. As for citizens on 90th and Meinecke Streets, suffering is not a major concern.
Jim Price October 08, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Larry, the only solace I can offer is that in a story posted before this one I reported that, according to the city engineer, the work on 90th both north and south of North Avenue and on Meinecke is going considerably ahead of schedule.

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