Zoo Interchange delay may have side effects on Wauwatosa projects

Published on: 11/28/2012

The possibility that the completion of the Zoo Interchange project may be delayed is unlikely to have a direct effect on the development of the Innovation Park property, nor is it likely to impact the construction of a planned addition at Froedtert Hospital, according to representatives familiar with the projects.

It may, however, have negative side effects for Innovation Park and businesses in Wauwatosa.

The Zoo Interchange project, expected to be completed in 2018, may not be done until 2020 due to funding difficulties.

Froedtert representatives have said that the hospital will break ground on a $117 million dollar addition to the south side of the hospital pending necessary approvals.

"A delay in the Zoo Interchange project will not affect Froedtert Hospital's current plans to construct a new building on its campus," Froedtert spokeswoman Beth Strohbusch wrote in an email.

The Innovation Park project is likewise unlikely to be directly affected, City Administrator Jim Archambo said.

A contractor is expected to begin building Discovery Parkway, which will wend its way through the 87-acre parcel, east of Highway 45 and north of Mayfair Road, early next month. The parkway itself connects to Watertown Plank Road, but far enough east that the interchange project will not affect it, city Finance Director John Ruggini said.

Any delay would affect the Zoo Interchange itself, not the ancillary work planned for Mayfair Road, Glenview Avenue and other streets that reach into Wauwatosa, at least to the best of Archambo's knowledge.

"The way that it potentially affects (the projects) is that it potentially drags out for a longer period of time how long local businesses will have to deal with the construction," he said. "So I think in that way, it will have a negative impact."

It might make it more difficult to recruit businesses into the park, Archambo said. Similarly, "I believe it may make it more difficult for existing or any business to recruit people into the area knowing that they'd have to potentially put up with construction for two additional years."

Curtis Stang, chief operating officer of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Foundation, which owns Innovation Park, said potential tenants for the park "are looking for the long term" and wouldn't be making a decision based on temporary road work. It's just "more of an inconvenience," he said.

Archambo said meetings are planned between the city and the state Department of Transportation in the next couple of weeks to discuss the Zoo Interchange work.

"We're in contact with the DOT," he said.