Here we go again.
Back in 2017, 1000 Friends breathed a huge sigh of relief, along with our allies in the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation, when WisDOT dropped the planned expansion of I-94 near Story Hill in Milwaukee. Their internal environmental impact statement found that the project would not decrease congestion unless a comprehensive rapid transit system was also put into place in the region. We argued that the $1 billion cost would draw funding away from crumbling local roads while simultaneously increasing vehicle emissions and disproportionately affecting communities of color along the corridor. After years of work organizing and educating lawmakers, the Coalition finally got through to the decision makers…
... until this month when Governor Evers announced his intention to restart the project. After being dismissed by Governor Walker in large part due to the cost and to lack of public support around the Story Hill neighborhood and the historic cemeteries on both sides of the highway - the I-94 project is back. After so many years of combined efforts to stop this costly expansion once again we are facing the same battle.
In 2014, the federal government found that the Zoo Interchange caused “irreparable harm,” to minority communities. This project on the same corridor is no different. Why is this project being reconsidered at a time of heightened awareness about structural racism in Wisconsin?
Expanding I-94 East-West runs counter to the Evers administration’s commitment to equitably reduce Wisconsin’s climate emissions, so why is this project being reconsidered even as the consequences of climate change become increasingly dire and very real to Wisconsinites? Why is this project being considered when we’re faced with severe economic uncertainty and we need more transit investment to get people to jobs?
The I-94 East-West expansion is a fiscal, social, and environmental mistake. The money required for this project would be far more valuable supporting local roads, walking, biking, and equitable access to transit across Wisconsin. We strongly urge Governor Evers to reconsider.