WISPIRG Foundation
Press Release

WisDOT Proposal for I-94 Project Could Lead to More Severe Crashes

WisDOT Should Go Back To Drawing Board, Prioritize Repair and Safety Over Expansion

By - Feb 19th, 2015 03:25 pm
Road Construction

Road Construction

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s traffic crash analysis presented in their Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the I-94 Corridor Study has been criticized as “incomplete and misleading” by 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.   The land use group’s transportation analyst reviewed the report and found that the proposal to expand the highway could actually lead to more severe crashes on the highway.

The analysis found that WisDOT does not address the real safety issues in the corridor – severe crashes that are caused due to excessive speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol.  The analysis concludes that the proposed expansion is likely to exacerbate these problems.  WisDOT’s own Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project states, on page 4-40, that the crash problem can be resolved with a non-4-lane option with at-grade improvements; in other words, repairing, not expanding, the highway with spot improvements.

“The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has failed to make a case for expanding the highway and misrepresented the safety impacts of the proposed project to justify their position,” said Steve Hiniker, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.  “WisDOT’s preferred solution would likely lead to more safety problems than a much cheaper alternative.”

1000 Friends of Wisconsin found that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s crash analysis is cursory and inadequate. It fails to distinguish between minor fender-benders and more serious crashes that lead to severe injuries or death.  In fact, while the roadway does have a higher overall crash rate compared to other similar roadways, expanding the highway could lead to more severe crashes.

WisDOT does not acknowledge that all of the fatal crashes and a majority of severe injury causing crashes occurred off peak hours due to excessive speeds.  It also did not acknowledge that alcohol was a key factor in more than one third of severe crashes – something that highway expansion would not address.

1000 Friends of Wisconsin transportation analyst, Ash Anandanarayanan, had requested more details from WisDOT about the agency’s incomplete crash analysis but did not receive a substantial explanation.  The study was therefore carried out through data obtained from a database maintained by the University of Wisconsin.

“Safety improvements can be made at a far lower cost without expanding the capacity of the highway.  By widening the highway, off peak hour speeding could increase, leading to more severe crashes” said Hiniker.

“WisDOT is justifying a billion-dollar project with an incomplete and misleading crash analysis.  Clearly, they were more interested in laying the groundwork for highway expansion than they were in actually looking to implement cost effective solutions to safety concerns.”  1000 Friends urged WisDOT to carry out a revised alternative selection process and find a solution that would reduce fatalities and severe injuries on the corridor in a cost effective manner.

“Make no mistake: This at-grade expansion is a billion-dollar boondoggle that’s just as bad as the double-decker,” said Peter Skopec, WISPIRG Campaigns Director. “Instead of wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to add lanes, WisDOT should repair the highway with the existing number of lanes, fix local roads and invest in transit instead.  If nothing else, legislators should stand up for taxpayers and refuse to fund this wasteful proposal.”

“This project is a solution in search of a problem.  We call on WisDOT to explain how their preferred solution of expanding the highway is safer than simply implementing spot improvements on the existing highway, without expansion,” concluded Hiniker.

More about the I-94 East-West Expansion

Read more about I-94 East-West Expansion here

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4 thoughts on “WisDOT Proposal for I-94 Project Could Lead to More Severe Crashes”

  1. Brisls says:

    Why does I-94 need to be enlarged for 3.5 miles. People know there are cemeteries in that area. How does decreasing the lane width from 12 feet to 11 feet not present a reason that will also increase the propensity for more crashes. Taking away the emergency lane is foolish. How does a disabled vehicle in traffic not create a hazard. Making things bigger is not always for the better.

  2. AG says:

    Ha, so if WISPIRG and 1000 Friends had their way, there would be permanent 5 mph bumper to bumper traffic because that would reduce all fatal accidents. Excellent plan.

    Brisls, good point… lets bring the double deck option back into play. I too am concerned about the 11 ft lanes. Although with that said, 11 ft lanes have shown to decrease off peak travel speeds of motorists… which helps WISPIRG and 1000 Friends reduce the speeding they are so worried about.

  3. Paul says:

    Speeding and drunk driving happens on four and two lane highways, what does this idiot group propose, speed bumps every ten feet and a five MPH speed limit with padded walls around each lane?

  4. baron2016 says:

    I see a key part of this groups agenda is mentioned here. MASS TRANSIT. Look around you. Who is giving up their car to ride a bus? I will answer that: NOBODY. Widening the lanes is a good idea, it adds to more space around vehicles. Put speeders in their place, start giving out more speeding tickets. It’s not that hard to do: Place one sheriff with a radar gun at a point on the highway. Place 5 sheriffs with cruisers a half mile down the road. You get a speeder, point him to the side of the road, if they don’t stop, chase them with one of the cruisers. Another point is the number of vehicles on the road during rush hour. If all the people using the highway are trying to get to and from work during these hours, doesn’t that mean, for the most part, these are the same people using the road everyday? Would widening the roads increase volume? If you believe it would, please tell me where these extra drivers are coming from. We have X number of vehicles on the roads that commute daily. We have a Y amount that adds to traffic of drivers just passing through. If X is about the same daily, how would widening the roads increase that amount? Would we really have an influx of road users just because we have wider roads? Are the Smiths in Iowa saying, “Gee, hon, let’s drive through Milwaukee, they have 4 lane highways there”.

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