WISDOT Disregards Community Opposition, Declining Driving, Proposes to Waste Taxpayer Money on Unneeded I-94 Expansion
WISDOT’s Preferred Option Is a ‘Billion Dollar Boondoggle’
MILWAUKEE – Today, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced that its preferred alternative for the I-94 East-West Corridor is an “at-grade” expansion. With traffic counts declining in the corridor, any expansion is unnecessary and will waste taxpayer money, while diverting resources away from other critical infrastructure repairs, including fixing bridges and potholes on local roads.
“The Wisconsin DOT has the wrong priorities and is doing a disservice to Wisconsin taxpayers who pay for our transportation system,” said Peter Skopec, WISPIRG Director. “Rather than fixing it first and prioritizing the maintenance of our existing roads and bridges, the DOT wants to widen a highway where traffic counts have declined by 8 percent over the past 12 years. The DOT is forging ahead with a ‘billion dollar boondoggle.’ Any responsible legislator should reject what the DOT has proposed.”
The WISDOT proposal disregards:
- Data That Don’t Support Project: A September 2014 USPIRG report, “Highway Boondoggles: Wasteful Spending and America’s Future,” notes that the I-94 expansion is based on the presumption that traffic volumes are expected to grow by 2030. In fact, traffic dropped in this corridor between 2009 and 2012, the latest year for which data are available. Inexplicably, a 2014 WISDOT statement describing current traffic count numbers uses 2010 figures rather than the more recent 2012 figures, which are lower than the 2010 counts. A 2014 1000 Friends of Wisconsin report found that traffic counts on this stretch of highway decreased 8 percent from 2000-2012.
- Community Opposition: The City of Milwaukee has passed four resolutions opposing the highway expansion; Milwaukee County has also passed a resolution opposing expansion. In addition, hundreds of community members have expressed public opposition to these options put forward by WISDOT, including hundreds that showed up to oppose any expansion of the highway at WISDOT’s Draft EIS public hearings in early December 2014.
- Wasting Taxpayer Money: In addition to squandering resources on a project that data don’t support, unneeded highway expansion will divert billions of dollars away from the repair of existing local roads and other critical local transportation infrastructure all over Wisconsin. For example, with limited resources dedicated to repair, the number of Wisconsin bridges that engineers have deemed “structurally deficient,” increased to 1,212 last year, according to the National Bridge Inventory tabulated by the Federal Highway Administration.
“The choice should be clear for state legislators working on the budget,” concluded Skopec. “Why are we talking about increasing state bonding by hundreds of millions of dollars and putting this wasteful expansion on the state’s credit card, the way Governor Walker has proposed, or increasing taxes on Wisconsinites? Instead, let’s get our transportation priorities straight – starting with a stop to the unnecessary expansion of I-94 in Milwaukee.”
WISPIRG is a statewide non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful special interests. www.wispirg.org.
- Op Ed: Don’t Expand I-94 - James Davies - Jul 18th, 2020
- Evers Considering Abandoned $1.1 Billion I-94 Expansion - Shawn Johnson - Jul 9th, 2020
- The Contrarian: Could Milwaukee Freeway Project Be Revived? - George Mitchell - Dec 31st, 2018
- The Contrarian: Call It The Walker Bottleneck - George Mitchell - Feb 19th, 2018
- The Contrarian: Ending Freeway Project Is Historic Blunder - George Mitchell - Nov 6th, 2017
- Streetsblog: The Man Who Beat the Highway Lobby - Angie Schmitt - Oct 13th, 2017
- The Contrarian: I-94 Cancellation Has Huge Impact - George Mitchell - Oct 6th, 2017
- Three Environmental Justice Groups Ask Court to Block I-94 Expansion - American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin - Mar 2nd, 2017
- Community Forum Urges WISDOT to Scrap I-94 Expansion - Coalition for More Responsible Transportation - Mar 31st, 2016
- With I-94 Decision Pending, State & Local Leaders Oppose Wasteful Expansion, Call for Smarter Local Investments - Coalition for More Responsible Transportation - Dec 9th, 2015
Read more about I-94 East-West Expansion here
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