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Hoan Bridge
The Hoan Bridge
Official name Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge
Carries 6 lanes of I-794
Crosses Milwaukee River
Locale Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Maintained by Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)
Design Tied arch bridge
Total length 3,057.8 m (1.9 mi)[1]
Width 15.8 m (51.8 ft)[2]
Clearance below 36.6 m (120.1 ft)[2]
AADT 19230[2]
Beginning date of construction 1970
Opened 1977
Coordinates 43°1′30.58″N 87°53′56.70″W / 43.0251611°N 87.899083°W / 43.0251611; -87.899083
The underside of the bridge

The Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge is a tied arch bridge that connects Interstate 794 in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin to the Lake Freeway across the Milwaukee River inlet. Originally called the Harbor Bridge, it was renamed after Daniel Hoan, a former mayor of Milwaukee.

It was designed by the firm Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff and in 1975 won the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Long Span Bridge Award. Although construction on the bridge lasted briefly from 1970 until 1972, it did not open to traffic until 1977 due to public backlash against the planned Milwaukee County freeway system. This halted completion of the connecting roadways and led to the Hoan Bridge being known as "The Bridge to Nowhere."

Its unfinished state was used as the site of the car chase scene in the movie The Blues Brothers. Eventually, the bridge was connected to somewhere in September 1998, when the Lake Parkway (Wisconsin Highway 794) opened between the bridge's southernmost exit, connecting the bridge between the Bay View neighborhood and the northeast part of Mitchell Field.

The Hoan Bridge was temporarily closed on December 13, 2000 after two of the three support beams of the lakefront span failed, causing the north-bound lanes to buckle and sag by several feet and leaving the span in a near collapsed state. No motorists were injured when the bridge failed. On December 28, 2000 engineers used explosives to remove the damaged section. The damaged span was restricted to one lane in each direction for eight months while it was reconstructed, and the remainder of the bridge underwent extensive rehabilitation and retrofitting. Two lanes in each direction were reintroduced on October 10, 2001, and the bridge was fully reopened the following month.[3] According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel at the time of its failure the six lanes of the bridge had carried an average of only 36,590 cars per day. The Lake Parkway (Wisconsin Highway 794) traffic has been increasing on a yearly basis, making the Hoan Bridge an increasingly important artery for the city of Milwaukee.[4] A total of $16 million was spent to demolish and replace the damaged section and retrofit the remainder of the bridge.[5]

Experts believe that improperly designed welds between the lower lateral bracing and floorbeams along with a period of extreme cold and snow led to the partial collapse of the Hoan Bridge.[6]


  1. ^ "Daniel Webster Hoan Bridge". Lichtenstein Consulting Engineers (archived version). Retrieved 2008-08-11.  
  2. ^ a b c " National Bridge Inventory Bridges". Retrieved 2007-10-05.  
  3. ^ Tom Held (October 10, 2001), Drivers' patience pays off as most lanes reopen on Hoan Bridge, Milwalkee Journal Sentinal,, retrieved 2008-10-12  
  4. ^ Larry Sandler (May 28, 2001), A bridge too far? Drivers avoid the Hoan, Milwalkee Journal Sentinal,, retrieved 2008-03-22  
  5. ^ Larry Sandler (August 2, 2007), Hoan Bridge failure was wake-up call here, Milwalkee Journal Sentinal,, retrieved 2008-03-22  
  6. ^ Hoan Bridge Failure Investigation and Retrofit; A Summary, Lichtenstein Consulting Engineers (archived version),, retrieved 2008-08-11  

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