Kilbourn Avenue tunnels set to reopen Friday, Sept. 3

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A major roadway leading into and out of Milwaukee's arts and entertainment district is set to reopen after months of construction.

The Kilbourn Avenue tunnels off I-43 are set to reopen at noon Friday, Sept. 3.

The construction was part of the Hillside Interchange project and repaired pavement and replaced the tunnels' curb and gutter.

The closure came during a summer when downtown was reinvigorated thanks to the reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Bucks' NBA Finals run. Traffic that normally would have gone through the Kilbourn Avenue tunnels was forced to funnel in elsewhere.

"Having this closed a lot of people did have to work closely together, a lot of planning went in to making sure people could still get to the Deer District, still get into the near downtown area," Department of Transportation regional communication manager Michael Pyritz told CBS 58.

The tunnels are set to reopen with much-needed improvements and maintenance.

"We have to make sure the roadway stays in good shape," Pyritz said. "And certainly a lot of vehicles on a daily basis do come through here and we're able to make sure this infrastructure lasts well into the future."

The reopening of the tunnels not only has a major impact on traffic flow, but also for the arts and entertainment district that includes the Wisconsin Center, Fiserv Forum, UWM Panther Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre.

"We come fairly often, we come for some of the sports events as well," Terry Gassert of Mequon said in an interview.

Gassert and her husband Joe visited the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit at the Wisconsin Center. They say they have used the Kilbourn tunnels in the past when they arrive in the district for arts and entertainment events, including Marquette basketball games.

"Yeah, of course it will, it will make it easier," Monet Williams said of the tunnels' reopening.

Williams was also visiting the Van Gogh exhibit with her husband.

Both the Williams and Gasserts said they are looking forward to the return of more events in the district coming out of the pandemic and believe the tunnels' reopening will make their future visits more convenient.

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