Sierra Club
Press Release

Coalition Admonishes I-94 expansion Record of Decision

Approval of the project harms civil rights, air and water quality, and climate

By - Mar 20th, 2024 03:12 pm

Milwaukee, WI – The Federal Highway Administration issued the I-94 expansion project’s Record of Decision (ROD) while the project is under investigation for civil rights violations. Further, Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT)’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) increases projected project cost, acreage that will be taken for the project, and selects the high-greenhouse-gas-emitting 8-lane alternative.

Environmental, civil rights, public interest and social justice groups who have fought this proposed expansion for over a decade held a press conference to respond to the ROD and FSEIS. A stream of the press event is available at https://www.facebook.com/SierraClubWI/videos/700442532279788

Press event speakers included:

In addition, coalition members issued the following statements to the I-94 ROD:

“Milwaukee’s neighborhoods are already torn apart by the Freeway system, which does very little to enhance the lives of the people who live here – almost 40% of us don’t drive cars. We need more public transit, not freeways that help the privileged few. – Ann Bowe, Volunteer and Master Naturalist, Friends of Valley Park and Gardens

“We are disappointed that FHA would approve expansion of I94 to 8 lanes in Milwaukee, as well as a massive increase of the Stadium Interchange, while a federal civil rights review is pending. This expansion of I94, in combination with other recent expansions at the Zoo and Marquette Interchanges, will further degrade water quality in our rivers, increase flood risk, and harm air quality for local communities that bear the brunt of pollution, said Cheryl Nenn of Milwaukee Riverkeeper. “WisDOT’s preferred alternative fails to meaningfully mitigate environmental impacts or lessen those impacts by not including permanent transit as part of any alternative and failing to maintain the highway in its existing footprint. Approving this project as is, worsens the imbalance between highway expansions and the decline of public transit services,and exacerbates impacts to communities of color and the environment.”     – Cheryl Nenn, Riverkeeper, Milwaukee Riverkeeper

“We, as citizens of Milwaukee and of Wisconsin, must recognize our responsibility to the people of the planet. Expansion of I-94 means increased greenhouse gas emissions, which only serve to exacerbate global warming and contribute to the climate chaos happening all over the world.” – Terry Wiggins, 350.org Milwaukee

“Air and noise pollution from traffic emissions is linked to multiple adverse health effects including cardiovascular disease, asthma, diminished lung function, increased hospitalizations for respiratory illnesses, neurodevelopmental issues, learning problems, and premature death. This expansion will exacerbate health disparities, especially for low-income, Black, and Latino children living near the project, as their lungs are still developing and they have less access to healthcare.” – Abby Novinska Lois, executive director of Healthy Climate Wisconsin

“I have a patient who has asthma, and he wanted to improve his health by exercising. I asked him if he could simply go outside where he lives to walk or jog. He lives near the highway and replied, ‘Doc, when I go outside I FEEL that pollution in my lungs.’ He would have to drive to a further community or figure out an indoor alternative which often is not free. Everyone should have access to clean air and not feel the health impacts of our highways. Expanding the highway would amplify this environmental injustice and harm the health of Wisconsinites such as this U.S. veteran.”-Joanne Bernstein, MD, Healthy Climate Wisconsin

“The Great Waters Group of the Sierra Club–a group that covers Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, and Ozaukee Counties–deeply regrets the FHA’s decision to approve the expansion of I-94 in Milwaukee. In a time when the impacts of climate change are becoming more apparent and widely felt with the increase of extreme weather events, building infrastructure that will result in more greenhouse gas emissions is the complete opposite direction to go in. We need to increase the availability of public transit, not facilitate more cars on the roads.” – Jenny Abel, Chair, Great Waters Group Sierra Club

“In 2017, a federal court lawsuit by MICAH, NAACP Milwaukee Chapter, and Sierra Club challenged the decision to approve the I-94 expansion project then as failing to comply with the requirements of federal law.  Before those challenges could be decided, Governor Walker asked the federal government to withdraw its approval of the project.  Unfortunately, under Governor Evers, WisDOT put the project back on the drawing board.  In January of 2023, more than two dozen organizational members of this coalition submitted over 100 pages of comments and almost 130 exhibits demonstrating dozens of deficiencies in the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the project.  The coalition is currently reviewing the thousands of pages in the Final SEIS, its appendices, and its supporting documents to determine whether and to what extent the state and federal transportation agencies have corrected those deficiencies.” – Attorney Dennis Grzezinski.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. While it is believed to be reliable, Urban Milwaukee does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

More about the I-94 East-West Expansion

Read more about I-94 East-West Expansion here

Recent Press Releases by Sierra Club

Advocates condemn approval of I-94 expansion

The project is currently under review for Civil Rights violation

Majority (63%) of Line 5 comments show strong opposition

Climate, Treaty Rights, Waterways rank among highest areas of concern

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