First noise complaints, now Hoan project hurting business

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- First it was noise complaints, and now, construction on the Hoan Bridge project is causing traffic and parking woes for downtown businesses. Some companies say their livelihood hangs in the balance and are pleading to local officials for a change.

Dawnelle Kilsdonk is the owner of Rouge Salon on E. Michigan Street. She says her clients are expecting a tranquil, relaxing experience there -- but she says lately, they're feeling anything but relaxed.

"We don't want people coming in all frustrated and harried," Kilsdonk said.

Ever since the Wisconsin DOT altered street parking on Michigan Street and travel patterns in connection with the Hoan Bridge project, there has been a steady drum of concern and protest. The current changes will be in effect for the next two years, and businesses are being affected.

"We love and enjoy our clients. They are having a hard time finding parking and people have been turned away because they are too late for their appointments and it`s just negatively impacted the area because of that," Kilsdonk said.

Owners of The Soup House next door say they're feeling the same pain.

"We noticed a definite drop off in businesses. This is our busiest time of the year and it's down at least 20%. We've been here for 13 years. We don't want to lose businesses that are viable to this area and would impact a lot of people who work down here," Mitz Erickson said.

After hearing the cries from business owners and receiving emails, Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman is stepping in to try to find a solution.

"(Kilsdonk's) entire business is in jeopardy because the state DOT has essentially removed all the parking and turned Michigan Street into a four-lane through street with no parking any time day or night. I, on the other hand, know my colleagues and the (Common) Council are concerned with local business and the job creators in the city -- so I introduced a file to basically reverse all these traffic mitigation measures as they call them -- put things back the way they were and restore all the street parking," Bauman said.

Bauman says the file has been introduced and there will probably be a hearing on it in March.

Meanwhile, the city's Department of Public Works has been trying to make some minor modifications.

Related stories:

    CLICK HERE for additional information on the Hoan Bridge project via the Wisconsin DOT.