I-94 expansion plan in western Milwaukee holds public meetings

A controversial plan to extend I-94 on the west side of Milwaukee will be the subject of two public consultation meetings.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is hosting the open houses on Wednesday, December 8 at the Tommy Thompson Youth Center in State Fair Park, 640 S. 84th St., and Thursday, December 9 at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource Office, 1027 W. St Paul Ave.

Both meetings will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The public is invited to view information on the I-94 East-West project, discuss with project staff, and submit comments on alternative designs for the corridor.

The ministry announced in April that it would do an additional environmental impact study on the project – in part to better assess changes in traffic patterns linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This statement will identify a “preferred alternative” for the project, with a public hearing in the summer of 2022. Alternatives include adding additional lanes or upgrading the highway without additional lanes.

An updated schedule recently released by the ministry shows that the final federal review of the preferred alternative could be completed in 2023.

The schedule calls for construction beginning in 2025 and lasting four years, if the project obtains final federal and state approvals.

A possible extension, estimated to cost an estimated $ 1 billion, would move I-94 from six lanes to eight lanes between 16th and 70th streets.

This is necessary to reduce traffic jams and improve safety, according to the DOT.

This includes providing a reliable link within the state’s freeway system for trucks that transport goods through Wisconsin and other states.

But opponents say the aging stretch of the highway can be rebuilt and made safer without the additional lanes – which they say are not justified on the basis of DOT traffic counts.

Those opposed to the expansion also say the benefits of the project are overestimated and favor suburban commuters over blacks living near the freeway – many of whom do not own a car.

The proposed eight-lane I-94 extension was first proposed by the government of the day. Scott Walker, a Republican.

It has received federal approval to pay most of its costs. But Walker in 2017 abandoned the project because the state had no way of funding his share.

Since then, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republicans who control the Legislature have invested money in road projects by increasing vehicle title and registration fees.

Evers, who beat Walker in 2018, announced in July 2020 their intention to relaunch the expansion plan.

Evers’ 2021-2023 budget, approved by the Legislative Assembly, includes $ 82 million for design work, real estate acquisitions and utility relocations, with additional funding likely to be requested in the 2023 budget -2025.

Tom Daykin can be emailed to [email protected] and followed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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