Graham Kilmer

County Board Rejects The ‘Fix at Six’

Board still maintains a policy of opposition to I-94 expansion, but won't support this alternative.

By - Dec 19th, 2022 06:05 pm
Diverging diamond design for Stadium Interchange. Image from I-94 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

Diverging diamond design for Stadium Interchange. Image from I-94 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

The Milwaukee County Board narrowly voted down a resolution that opposes the state plan to expand a section of I-94 to eight lanes and instead endorses a community-driven, six-lane plan known as the “Fix at Six”.

The resolution was authored by Sup. Peter Burgelis and recommended for approval by the board’s Committee on Transportation and Transit. But it failed to gain the full authority of the county board, with supervisors voting down its passage 8-9.

“It’s clear that the rebuild of I-94 is overdue, necessary and it will spur thousands of local family supporting union jobs,” Burgelis told his colleagues. But, he added, the state Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT) $1.2 billion, eight-lane design does not serve the transit needs of all county residents or improve the quality of life.

The state is currently planning to rebuild 3.5 miles of interstate, expanding it between 16th and 70th streets and rebuilding the Stadium Interchange with a new design.

The county board has had a standing policy opposing I-94 expansion since 2015. That policy, authored by former supervisor Michael Mayo, Sr., also stated the board favors a “Rehab/Transit Option.” The Rehab/Transit Option is a community-developed plan — similar to Fix at Six — that called for highway expansion funds to instead be used for public transit and road repairs.

Both plans were developed by Mark Stout, a transportation consultant and former New Jersey Department of Transportation official. Fix at Six supports rebuilding I-94 in the section WisDOT has targeted for expansion, but it calls for repairs and modernization. The plan also supports public transit enhancements, specifically a second Bus Rapid Transit line on the southern side of the freeway, and investments in pedestrian infrastructure.

The resolution adopted by the board in 2015 was never signed by then-County Executive Chris Abele. When the resolution returned unsigned by the county executive it became, in effect, a policy only for the county board — like the board’s policy toward the Mitchell Park Domes created in 2016 and recently replaced.

Since 2021, two other resolutions “reaffirming” the board’s opposition to the expansion of I-94 have failed to make it across the finish line. The first, authored by former supervisor John Weishan, Jr. was passed by the board, but vetoed by County Executive David Crowley, who cited procedural reasons: the fact that the resolution was introduced on the board floor, bypassing the committee process. A second resolution, sponsored by former supervisor Eddie Cullen — now the communication manager for the board and the Office of the County Clerk — was tabled by a county committee pending the results of WisDOT’s supplemental environmental impact study.

Sup. Burgelis told his colleagues he put forward the resolution to revisit the board’s policy toward I-94 expansion after the release of the supplemental environmental impact study and WisDOT’s preferred design option. Once released, a 60-day public comment period began and Burgelis authored the resolution, hoping to give opposition to the plan the voice and authority of Milwaukee County government within this public comment period.

“WisDOT’s preferred eight-lane option does not fit the current needs of Milwaukee, nor is it an efficient use of taxpayer investments,” Burgelis said.

Of the 17 supervisors who voted on the resolution, only four offered their reasons at the board meeting.

Sup. Deanna Alexander said the “Fix at Six” proposal “has many good points to it and was certainly appealing,” but noted that any proposal for interstate construction will need approval from the federal government for much of the funding to move forward. “If we do not move forward [with WisDOT’s plan]… that federal money goes away, it goes to another state,” she said.

Alexander said “Fix at Six” is a concept, “But it’s not an alternative in the scope of a plan that has all of the engineering and specs and everything behind it, that is actually on the table for comparison, within the process that the feds and the state go through.”

Sup. Liz Sumner similarly indicated that she didn’t think Burgelis’ resolution would be effective or necessary. “I guess I’m just confused as to why this is even before us to begin with,” she said. “We’ve already made several statements in the past that we support the six lanes.” Sumner said WisDOT has studied and engineered several options and maintains that the eight-lane design is the best plan and that while she would like to see $1.2 billion spent on any number of other things, “that’s just simply not what is in front of us.”

Sup. Steve Taylor, a Republican, didn’t engage in a debate about the policy but offered a tongue-in-cheek comment from the floor. “I’m just going to say I’m going to vote no on this because I try to support Governor Evers as often as I can.”

Supervisors Alexander, Willie Johnson Jr., Patti Logsdon, Anthony Staskunas, Sumner, Steve Taylor, Kathleen Vincent, Dyango Zerpa and Marcelia Nicholson voted against the proposal. Supervisors Ryan Clancy, Burgelis, Shawn Rolland, Felesia Martin, Juan Miguel Martinez, Shea, Sequanna Taylor and Sheldon Wasserman voted in favor.

One thought on “Transportation: County Board Rejects The ‘Fix at Six’”

  1. BigRed81 says:

    Fix at Six is adequate. Expansion profits the Road Builders Association. Their Lobbyists continue “winning” Expressway contracts in Milwaukee
    serving WOW County commuters while our City streets crumble.
    WMC also supports expansion. Their
    business interests lie outside Milwaukee County.
    GOP legislators continue to shortchange Milwaukee in Shared Revenue. They get away with their Anti-Milwaukee agenda due to Gerrymandered maps keeping them in office.
    “If you can’t win by hook, win by crook”!

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