The Hoan Bridge Won’t Be Getting LED Lights After All

The $226 million Hoan Bridge Project was completed, but plans to put aesthetic LED lights on the Downtown bridge’s iconic arches were dropped.

One multi-million dollar highway reconstruction project ended and another began on Tuesday, Dec. 15, when Gov. Scott Walker held a press conference announcing the completion of the Hoan Bridge Project and the official beginning of the Lakefront Gateway Project. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the full reopening of the Downtown bridge, the $226 million project was touted as being on time and under budget.

But plans to illuminate the Hoan’s iconic arches with splashy LED lights did not make the project’s final cut.

“At this point, there are no plans to put the LED lights on,” said Michael Pyritz, regional spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of  Transportation. “The lighting was removed as a cost-savings measure.”

It was not clear to Pyritz how this approved proposal was dropped from the project.

You may recall a mini-controversy back in April of 2013 when the DOT made it known that it would be going forward with a proposal to add decorative LED lights to the bridge’s arches. Some balked at the estimated $500,000 to $1 million price tag for the LED addition; others considered it to be a welcome aesthetic improvement that would bring a Milwaukee icon to life at night.

Regardless, the bridge will be blue and yellow, just as it has been since it first opened to traffic in 1977.




Dan Shafer was the digital editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Dan joined the magazine as assistant editor in 2014 and wrote the November 2014 cover story, "Downtown Horizons." He's worked as a reporter at BizTimes Milwaukee and an editor at ThirdCoast Digest. Contact him at He's on Twitter @danshaferMKE.