State Quietly Expands I-94 Project

Reconstruction of I-94 would extend 23% further into city, stretching east to 16th Street, WISDOT says.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Aug 30th, 2013 01:35 pm
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The I-94 East-West Project as presented by WisDOT.

The I-94 East-West Project as presented by WisDOT, before change to EIS.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation this week quietly moved the eastern boundary of the I-94 east-west reconstruction and expansion project from 25th St. to 16th St., extending the project by 23 percent.

WisDOT’s extension increases the project length from 2.85 miles to 3.5 miles, a increasing it by.65 miles. Cost figures were not included in the announcement, which was made in the Federal Register.

All of its I-94 reconstruction public outreach, including a total of eight public meetings, dealt with a project that ended at 25th St.

Extending the boundaries may bring WisDOT trouble legally on the potential issue of racial discrimination. The population living near the freeway in the area between 19th St. and 25th St. is much more heavily minority than the population living near the freeway in much of the rest of the project area, which extends west to 70th Street. WisDOT will have to explain why the newly affected group of residents was not consulted in the first year the agency sought public input for the project.

Said WisDOT in its Federal Register announcement:  “Public involvement is a critical component of the National Environmental Policy Act  (NEPA) project development process and will continue to occur throughout the development of the EIS (environmental impact statement).”

Furthermost right marker represents the new proposed eastern edge of the I-94 project.

Furthermost right marker represents the proposed new eastern edge of the I-94 project.

The agency said the expanded project area “is in response to additional work necessary east of 25th Street to accommodate alternatives that would tie back into I-94 near 16th Street and better match the recently reconstructed Marquette Interchange.”

WisDOT did not explain why those two things were not considered since the start of the I-94 planning.

WisDOT said it would respond “soon” to inquiries about the expanded project area and has plans for new public outreach efforts.

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8 thoughts on “State Quietly Expands I-94 Project”

  1. Andy says:

    The Marquette interchange was altered since the original plan… doesn’t it make sense to then alter these plans because of the changes to the interchange? We’ll see if that’s true once further explanation is given, but that’s what makes sense to me right off the bat.

  2. Dave K. says:

    Does “extending the project by 23 percent” mean an extension of miles or dollars?

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @Dave K Miles… The dollar amount has not been revealed yet.

  4. Ann S. says:

    Any extension to the project footprint requires either an addendum to or the complete reissuance of a NEPA EIS, including new public hearings.

  5. Dave Reid says:

    @Ann S Correct. WisDOT has put in an Revised Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement: Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

    https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/08/28/2013-20964/revised-notice-of-intent-to-prepare-an-environmental-impact-statement-milwaukee-county-wisconsin

  6. Ann S says:

    If I had to guess, there was a major issue with traffic numbers that required additional local road improvements east of the initial proposed tieback. Once the EIS develops to a certain point, usually after the conclusion of the relatively arduous public hearing process, designers have it hammered into their heads to under no circumstances alter the footprint because it leads to situations like this. Again, just a totally uninformed guess, but a somewhat-educated one.

  7. gleiss says:

    Yes, by all means, save those cars and SOVs 20 seconds of travel time at the expense of the adjacent neighborhoods. Pay no attention to decreasing VMTs, static population growth, or growing trend data indicating that younger generations care less about driving. Expand that concrete and asphalt! Expand it all!

  8. Dave K. says:

    Does the existing contractor automatically get the additional revenue generated by the extra mileage? Is it possible that this extension is a giveaway to a particular road builder?

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