Park East Freeway - History and Removal
Former Park East Freeway
The 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 Park East 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 was completed, therefore creating a spur which extended from I-43 to North Milwaukee Street.
The freeway spur was underutilized and quickly became 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 State of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee collectively approved the removal of the spur.
Three years later in 2002, with the use of Federal ISTEA money and local Tax Incremental Financing, removeal of the Park East freeway began.
The elevated freeway spur was replaced with an at-grade, six-lane boulevard that is fully connected to the existing and newly re-created street grid. New block configurations opened up 24 acres of downtown property for redevelopment.