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Brady Street pedestrian area: BID launches study to close 2-block stretch to cars

The BID study will review the two blocks along Brady from North Warren Avenue and North Franklin Place.
Brady Street
Posted at 10:45 AM, Jan 17, 2023

MILWAUKEE — A project to examine how Brady Street would function if part of the district was made off-limits to drivers, is taking a big step forward.

TMJ4 News has confirmed with the Brady Street Business Improvement District that its board hired two firms, GRAEF and The Kubala Washatko Architects, to create a new study to look into the idea. They'll consider impacts to the area if traffic were to be diverted — with a focus on pedestrian and bicycle safety. Those impacts include deliveries to the businesses in the area, engaging business development in the area, and the traffic impact to neighboring streets.

“We are proud and excited to be part of Brady Street’s new chapter that embraces the past, but also recognizes the Street must become a much better version of itself,” said Craig Huebner GRAEF Planning & Urban Design Practice Team Leader. “We look forward to working with our partners at the BID, TKWA, Alderman Brostoff, residents and business and property owners to create a word-class, thriving Brady Street for everyone.”

Brady Street
Brady Street in Milwaukee.

The study will review the two blocks along Brady from North Warren Avenue to North Franklin Place — essentially the area between Nomad World Pub and Brady Street Futons. That section was selected for several reasons, one being budget. "Brady Street is 9 blocks long, we couldn't afford to do a 9-block study," says BID Executive Director Rachel Taylor. She says the study will start in the densest area of Brady Street and added that the BID is paying for the study.

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Highlighted area shows where the proposal calls for pedestrianization.

Taylor says they chose those blocks because the area is home to a large concentration of local businesses. Under the study, the rest of Brady Street would still be open to cars. That decision allows institutions like Tamarack Waldorf School to remain open to vehicles via Brady Street.

Taylor adds that while the BID looks at how to balance safety, access and modernization — members are well aware that any change that happens on Brady Street has a greater impact on the area. "We're also dealing with some pretty significant competition in the area, with the Fiserv Forum/Bucks District. We can't compete on their level —we're fairly aware of that, but we can look at ways of making ourselves stand out as a destination." Taylor says the pedestrianization study joins the 11-story hotel proposal and a documentary on Brady Street as projects that look to keep Brady relevant and engaging in the Milwaukee community.

The timeline for an end to the study is fluid. "If we're able to take a look at something for this summer — we will," said Taylor. "I'd like to move quickly just because I don't want things to sit for too long, but that needs to be balanced with the fact that we need good information, and rushing a decision is not going to be in anybody's best interest."

The decision to close Brady Street still rests with the Milwaukee Common Council and Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

The issue of pedestrian safety, particularly along Brady Street, rose to public prominence after a 32-year-old Milwaukee man was killed by a hit-and-run driver, near North Franklin and Brady, in September of 2022.

City of Milwaukee authorities say they have made reckless driving a priority. The police department continues to run its reckless driving task force.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Milwaukee Record first reported the launch of the Brady Street pedestrian study on Monday.

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