The old Park East Freeway was a remnant of an abandoned 1960’s plan to encircle downtown Milwaukee with freeways. If the highway project had been completed as planned, the freeway spur would have extended past Juneau Park to the lakefront and then connected to I-794 at the northern end of the Hoan Bridge.
The project came to a halt during the mid-1970s in response to local opposition, after an extensive corridor had been cleared for construction. Only a one mile elevated segment of the freeway spur was completed, extending from I-43 to North Milwaukee Street.
The freeway spur was underutilized and was a blighting influence on the neighborhood. It devalued property and inhibited development on nearby parcels. The debilitating effects of the elevated freeway spur restricted the dominant land use throughout the corridor to surface parking.
In 1999 the removal of the spur was approved by the State of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee.
Three years later, utilizing Federal ISTEA money and local Tax Increment Financing, removal of the Park East Freeway began.
The elevated freeway spur was replaced with an at-grade six-lane boulevard that is fully connected with the existing and newly re-created street grid. New block configurations opened up 24 acres of downtown property for redevelopment.