Freeway Expansion Opponents To Meet With Biden Administration
Biden and Buttigieg might be more willing than Evers to halt project.
While Democratic Governor Tony Evers‘ administration is pushing full-speed ahead on widening Interstate 94 in Milwaukee, Democratic President Joe Biden‘s administration is signaling it might go in another direction.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), paused a controversial Houston highway expansion to allow a review of civil rights concerns.
Opponents of the expansion, which would add a lane in each direction from N. 16th St. to N. 70th St., are pushing for a new environmental study that would allow consideration of other options.
In a March 16th letter to Buttigieg, a group of faith leaders, civil rights organizations, environmental groups, and public interest advocates are asking for the review process to be restarted. They want to see the highway repaired, but funds for expansion redirected towards mass transit.
They’ll get to make their case on Friday. The group will meet with Stephanie Pollack, acting FHWA administrator.
“Among other procedural and substantive shortcomings, the initial [environmental impact statement] failed to conduct a meaningful, legally required environmental justice analysis, and used outdated traffic projections from 2009 that no longer reflect current commuting behavior,” wrote the 30 co-signers.
They argue investing in the highway over mass transit will disproportionately harm Milwaukeeans of color, that the expansion is a waste of public resources and will increase global warming emissions and that other alternatives are available to aid a recovery from COVID-19. The pandemic and resulting changes in workforce, they argue, could also negate the need for the expansion in the first place.
“Milwaukeeans – and all Americans – deserve a transportation system that works for everyone in their community; that challenges rather than exacerbates long standing racial inequities; and that cuts rather than increases greenhouse gas emissions,” they wrote.
A new study would require a new analysis of alternatives.
Attorney Dennis Grzezinski is one of the co-signers that will meet with Pollack. He has already sued over the project once, a move that came before Walker pulled the plug on funding the effort.
On behalf of MICAH and the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, Grezinski filed a successful suit that required the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to contribute $13.5 million to mass transit as part of the $1.7 billion Zoo Interchange project, located just west of today’s widening project.
A copy of the letter sent to Buttigieg is available on Urban Milwaukee.
More about the I-94 East-West Expansion
- Eyes on Milwaukee: I-94 Expansion Public Comment Deadline Extended - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 6th, 2023
- I-94 East-West study public comment period extended to January 31, 2023 - Wisconsin Department of Transportation - Jan 3rd, 2023
- Transportation: Opponents Assail I-94 Expansion at Public Hearing - Graham Kilmer - Dec 13th, 2022
- Transportation: County Committee Backs I-94 ‘Fix at Six’ - Graham Kilmer - Nov 30th, 2022
- I-94 Fix-At-Six Resolution Recommended for Adoption by Milwaukee County Transportation and Transit Committee - Sup. Peter Burgelis - Nov 29th, 2022
- Rep. Brostoff Statement in Opposition to Eight-Lane I-94 Expansion - Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Nov 14th, 2022
- Supervisor Burgelis Decries DOT Preferred Alternative for I-94 East-West project - Sup. Peter Burgelis - Nov 11th, 2022
- Advocates oppose expansion announcement of I-94 East-West project - Coalition for More Responsible Transportation - Nov 11th, 2022
- Eight-lane I-94 East-West project proposal not in the best interest of area residents - Ald. Michael Murphy - Nov 11th, 2022
- Transportation: State Picks I-94 Expansion Over ‘Fix at Six’ Proposal - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 11th, 2022
Read more about I-94 East-West Expansion here
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