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.