Dedicates Interchange Artwork Highlighting Region’s African-American Heritage
MILWAUKEE – Governor Jim Doyle today announced that the state is making steady progress on the Marquette Interchange project. Governor Doyle made the announcement during a dedication ceremony for the African American artwork included as part of the recently completed northern leg of the Interchange. The concrete-relief murals and decorative ceramic tiles, located at the Fond du Lac Avenue and Walnut Street interchanges with I-43, were incorporated as one element of the project’s Community Sensitive Design and reflect the regions strong African-American heritage.
“The Marquette Interchange project is a key element of my Grow Milwaukee Initiative,” Governor Doyle said. “As the largest transportation project in Wisconsin’s history, I am pleased to announce this project remains on budget and on time – with some areas of the project running several months ahead of schedule. By encouraging public input along with traditional elements of design, this project provides the community with a sense of pride and ownership in the end result I am proud the state and local community worked together to incorporate aspects of the region’s strong African-American heritage into the final design.”
The northern segment of the project is now completely finished, including all lanes, ramps and bridges between Wells Street and North Avenue. Much of the work on I-94 in the west has also been completed and work is currently underway on the I-43 ramps leading to the Menomonee Valley in the south. The final task of reconstructing the Interchange’s multi-level core remains on target for the November 2008 project completion date.
Local artists worked together with students from nearby Roosevelt Middle School to create much of the northern segments artwork. The murals along the Fond du Lac bridge depict the life of Joshua Glover – a runaway slave that federal authorities imprisoned in Milwaukee in 1854. City residents united to secure Glover’s freedom and provided safe passage to other slaves via the Underground Railroad that operated in the region. The Walnut Street bridge is adorned with 78 ceramic tiles that contain Adinkra (ah-deen-krah) symbols – characters from the African symbolic alphabet. During the early to mid 1900’s, the Walnut Street area was known as Bronzeville and served as the heart of the African-American business and social community.
Community sensitive design is the process of incorporating public input from the early stages of a planned transportation improvement to result in a project that is not only functionally safe and efficient, but that blends into a community’s physical and human environment. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation works with the public to incorporate community sensitive designs into projects throughout the state.
In addition to the artwork, Governor Doyle highlighted the state’s success in targeting a substantial portion of its investment in the project toward disadvantaged business enterprise, or DBE, firms to increase labor opportunities for minorities and women. Five out of 20 prime construction contracts have gone to DBE firms accounting for over $2.4 million dollars. All together, DBE firms have earned $115.2 million of prime or sub-contracts out of $609 million in total contracting and 947 individual minority workers have been employed on the project.
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