MILWAUKEE -- It could take two hours to get to the US Bank Fireworks show this year because of road closures and construction. That was the warning Monday, July 2 from Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt -- who said you've got to show up early!
Tammy Knapton and her family, from South Milwaukee were camping out along the lakefront beginning Monday morning, ahead of Tuesday night's US Bank Fireworks show.
"I mean, we have two babies, so we have lots to bring with us. Depends on where you want to get. If you want to get closer to the lake, you gotta get here early," said Knapton.
Dale Berry showed up around noon Monday from Oconomowoc to get his spot.
"It's incredible. You can spend a whole day doing absolutely nothing -- waiting for fireworks, meeting family, enjoying yourself. People were already setting up on Saturday," said Berry.
Rick Wischer has been coming to Veterans Park for 25 years and said he plans to make new friends.
"The people seeing -- how the people set up their towns or villages. It's big. It's fantastic. The crowd gets into it," said Wischer.
Acting Sheriff Schmidt had the same message Monday, saying road closures and construction will complicate the usual traffic jams, so if you're heading to the fireworks show, you shouldn't wait.
"Plan on a slow ride in and out of the downtown area -- so have plenty of gas in your vehicle and a bit of patience and you'll enjoy a great time," said Schmidt.
"Take plenty of time. I would plan a couple of hours if you're coming down here from any direction," said Schmidt.
If you're planning on driving to the lakefront for the fireworks show, here's what you need to know:
- Lincoln Memorial Drive will close as early as 5 p.m. Tuesday
- I-794 eastbound will close except for buses
- I-794 northbound over the Hoan Bridge will close at 8 p.m.
- I-794 southbound over the Hoan Bridge will close before the fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.
- When you're leaving the lakefront, freeways will be back open, but westbound Michigan and Clybourn will be closed
"We are going to have the lakefront and the parks, by the way, saturated with deputies," said Schmidt.
Meanwhile, dozens of people showed up at Veterans Park Monday to stake out a spot.
"Having done it both ways, I definitely think it is less stressful," said Knapton.
It's also important to leave your own fireworks at home.
When asked about possible violence or terror, Acting Sheriff Schmidt said his office has no intelligence of anything of the sort.
Below is information from the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office regarding road closures associated with this fireworks display:
The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office will be closing the I-794 northbound lanes of the Hoan Bridge Tuesday night at 8 p.m. at Carferry Drive prior to the fireworks. The fireworks are expected to start at 9:30 p.m. All lanes of traffic, northbound and southbound, will be closed during the fireworks and reopen following the display.
Access to I-794 eastbound at the Marquette Interchange will be closed to all vehicle traffic, except buses. McKinley Marina parking will be restricted to those with current season permits or those with legitimate business at the marina.
To alleviate traffic congestion after the fireworks, traffic southbound on the Hoan Bridge will be open for those heading to the south side. Traffic on southbound Lincoln Memorial Drive must take westbound I-94 or head southbound over the Hoan. Westbound Michigan Street and westbound Clybourn Street will be closed to vehicle traffic after the fireworks.
Lincoln Memorial Drive will be closed to vehicle traffic when all lots are full, which in past years has been as early as 5 p.m. Be advised that deputies may need to divert traffic leaving the lakefront area to ease the expected heavy traffic flow.
Additional information from the Milwaukee County Parks Department website: Rules for the Fireworks at the Lakefront
Driving a vehicle into the park is not allowed (it's never allowed!)
Dropping off passengers on Lagoon Road is not allowed on July 3. The Gift of Wings Kite Store parking lot will serve as a lot for vehicles with state-issued disabled plates or hang tags. Availability is limited; when this lot is full, event-goers will need to use general parking.
Using tent stakes or other stakes to mark a "saved" spot is now allowed (staking is never allowed!)
Pack it in, pack it out! So everyone can enjoy a clean, safe and fun Fourth of July, the Milwaukee County Parks and the City of Milwaukee's Fourth of July Commission remind you to place trash in the proper containers or to take it with you.
If you do not want to deal with the traffic and crowds, stick with FOX6. We are Milwaukee's only TV station carrying the entire US Bank Fireworks show live. Our coverage begins a 9 p.m. on Tuesday.