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Milwaukee Democrats Oppose State Plan to Widen I-94

widen I-94

here is a growing chorus of Milwaukee Democrats who say the state is missing the mark by expanding I-94 instead of focusing on buses and bicycles.

The Department of Transportation on Friday announced plans to widen I-94 between 70th Street and 16th Street in Milwaukee. That includes the lanes around American Family Field. The ultimate goal is to add new lanes, going from the current six lanes up to eight lanes.

Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, D-Milwaukee, is accusing Wis-Dot of living in the past.

“The DOT has an opportunity to redirect funds away from a backwards, environmentally disastrous ‘car is king’ mentality, and towards improvements that would do generational good in our communities,” Brotsoff said.

Many Milwaukee Democrats oppose the interstate project, either because they don’t like the costs, the environmental impact, or they believe that interstates have historically cut off communities of color.

Brostoff says he’d rather see Wisconsin invest in mass transit and bike lanes in the area.

“At a time when our communities are clamoring for multimodal transit options, pedestrian and bike safety improvements, and a shift away from car supremacy, expanding I-94 to eight lanes moves us in the wrong direction,” Brostoff said. “I urge the DOT to instead commit to redirecting the millions of additional dollars it would cost to expand I-94 towards making much-needed improvements across the region.”

He’s not alone. Milwaukee County Supervisor Peter Burgelis is also denouncing Wis-DOT’s I-94 plan.

“Building oversized freeways without considerations for multimodal transportation or permanent transit infrastructure is narrow-minded and shortsighted, and ignores concerns voiced by residents throughout this years-long design process. The eight-lane design does not serve the people of District 15, Milwaukee County, or Southeastern Wisconsin as well as it could,” Burgelis said in a statement.

Wisconsin has been talking about or actively planning to expand I-94 for years.

The project began in 2012, and was placed on hold in 2017 because state lawmakers didn’t include an expansion in the state budget.

Wis-DOT picked it back up in 2020, and has been marching toward a decision ever since.

There are two public hearings on the plan scheduled for next month.

Right now, the expansion project is expected to cost $1.2 billion.

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