I-94 Expansion Public Comment Deadline Extended
State allowing public comment until Jan. 31. Opponents favor "Fix at Six" option.
Have an opinion on the proposal to expand Interstate 94 between N. 16th St. and N. 70th St? The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is giving the public more time to comment formally on the $1.2 billion project.
In November, WisDOT announced it was sticking with its earlier proposal for an expansion to eight lanes of the 3.5-mile corridor after studying a six-lane rebuild option. Both proposals called for replacing the Stadium Interchange near American Family Field with a smaller, diverging diamond design.
“Public involvement and coordination is a critical part of the I-94 East-West reevaluation process,” WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said. “Extending this comment period ensures all voices are heard as we work with stakeholders to minimize any impacts to the community. We remain committed to developing infrastructure solutions that benefit the public for decades to come.”
Comments can now be made in writing, through Jan. 31, on the WisDOT website. Additional comment methods are listed at the end of this article.
The project was initially shelved in 2017 for lack of funding, but Governor Tony Evers resurrected the project in 2020 and attempted to fast-track federal reapproval of a 2016 plan. In April 2021, state officials agreed to conduct a supplemental study to examine other options or traffic pattern changes. A community group proposed a “Fix at Six” strategy that included rebuilding the roadway with safety improvements, but not adding lanes.
WisDOT studied a six-lane configuration, but concluded it would cost approximately the same amount in large part because the total width of the freeway corridor and the design of the Stadium Interchange were nearly identical under both study options. And while WisDOT, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is now recommending the eight-lane option, it’s also recommending a different interchange with Wisconsin Highway 175 than was originally proposed in 2016.
The current interchange, built when the north-south corridor was expected to be a larger freeway, features completely grade-separated freeway ramps. But it includes left-hand exits and on-ramps, a design strategy no longer used in large part because of concerns about safety. The new right-side, eastbound exit to N. General Mitchell Boulevard, the western stadium ramp, would be substantially longer and loop under a portion of the new interchange. The westbound exit would also be much longer, with the combined on-off-ramp reconfiguration yielding new bridges that flank the sides of the interchange.
The now-completed supplemental study anticipates the final project would cost $1.2 billion in 2021 dollars. The six-lane option would cost $1.13 billion. Reverting either option to the larger interchange would add $80 million to the cost of the project. Construction on the project would start in 2025.
WisDOT said it would invest $25 million in “transit solutions” during the construction process to mitigate the impact. County officials have hoped to use some of the funding to support the development of the 27th Street bus rapid transit line. The project plan also calls for improved bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure near the freeway.
A study is still underway on converting a portion of Wisconsin Highway 175 to the north to a boulevard. A coalition is also advocating for converting a portion of Interstate 794 to a boulevard.
Project opponents and supporters were quick to criticize or promote WisDOT’s expansion proposal after it was announced in November.
“It is unacceptable that WisDOT has ignored the calls of thousands of Wisconsinites to fix the highway at six lanes and instead decided to move forward with an eight-lane proposal,” said Elizabeth Ward, director of Sierra Club Wisconsin Chapter. “This proposal will increase water and climate pollution, health problems, racial disparities, and more. WisDOT needs to reconsider and move forward with a Fix at Six solution.”
The pro-expansion I-94 East-West Econ Connect group praised the project.
“We thank WisDOT and FHWA for all the work they have done on this project,” said Corey Zetts, executive director of the Menomonee Valley Partners. “WisDOT analyzed the options using the latest data, continuously sought input from stakeholders, and has incorporated stakeholder feedback for improved bike and pedestrian facilities planned along the various local roadways as part of the project. This diligence will pay dividends for decades with a reduction in congestion-related traffic accidents and a corridor ready to keep up with the region’s bright future.”
The state will produce a final environmental impact statement based on the feedback and the federal government will issue a record of decision.
The completed study, formally the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, is available on WisDOT’s website.
Wisconsin Department of Transportation – Southeast Region
Attn: Josh LeVeque
141 NW Barstow, STE 218
PO Box 798, Waukesha, WI 53187-0798
- Federal Government Investigating Civil Rights Complaint About I-94 Expansion - Evan Casey - Jan 11th, 2024
- Op Ed: 8-Lane I-94 Expansion Is Worst for Carbon Emissions - Cassie Steiner, Cheryl Nenn and Terry Wiggins - Dec 18th, 2023
- Residents Concerned I-94 Widening Would Increase Flooding In Nearby Neighborhoods - Jonah Chester - Aug 10th, 2023
- 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
Read more about I-94 East-West Expansion here