Jeramey Jannene
Transportation

Public Input Sought on Controversial Interstate 94 Expansion

State studying options to rebuild at six and eight lane configurations.

By - Dec 3rd, 2021 03:52 pm
Interstate 94 freeway at N. 16th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Interstate 94 freeway at N. 16th St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The public has two upcoming chances to weigh in on the future of a 3.5-mile-long Interstate 94 expansion in Milwaukee.

The more than $1 billion project would involve adding a lane in each direction between N. 16th St. and N. 70th St. under a proposal endorsed by Governor Tony Evers.

But the Wisconsin Department of Transportation agreed to conduct a supplemental environmental impact study after expansion opponents challenged that the existing 946-page study, completed in 2016, was out of date. The last formal public hearings for the project were in 2014. Evers’ administration had originally sought to fast-track the re-approval process after then-Governor Scott Walker shelved the project and the Federal Highway Administration rescinded its environmental approval in 2017.

WisDOT is hosting public, in-person meetings on Dec. 8 and 9. The open-house-style meetings will be held from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

The first meeting is being held at the Tommy Thompson Youth Center at State Fair Park, 640 S. 84th St. The second meeting is being held at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources office building, 1027 W. St. Paul Ave.

The public will be able to view project information, talk with project staff and submit input on design options.

The resulting environmental impact study will identify a “preferred alternative” for rebuilding the freeway. Expanding the freeway, according to state officials, would add at least $200 million to the project cost.

Project opponents have called for the highway to be rebuilt with safety improvements, but no expansion. In September a coalition introduced a “Fix at Six” proposal that would rebuild the freeway, but invest in other transportation options in parallel corridors.

“Doing nothing about this portion of road is not an option. This aging stretch of highway is one of the most dangerous roads in the state,” said WisDOT Secretary-designee Craig Thompson in an April statement that announced the supplemental study.

Both the six- and eight-lane proposals will be studied, with the redesign of the Stadium Interchange included in both versions.

The state, according to a newly-posted timeline, expects to complete the study in 2023. It expects to begin a four-year construction process in 2025, contingent on state and federal funding. Walker originally shelved the plan because the state did not provide funding for its share of the project costs.

The most recent state budget includes $82 million for design and site preparation work related to the project. A portion of that funding is from federal grants. Additional funding would be needed in the 2023-2025 budget.

The freeway opened to traffic in 1961 and 1962.

Based on 2019 WisDOT traffic data, the freeway corridor sees between 158,000 and 178,000 vehicles per day.

Can’t make the meeting? An online comment form is also available.

Categories: Transportation, Weekly

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