Pursuing pushback from neighborhood politicians, environmentalists and group groups, the Wisconsin Office of Transportation will acquire a move back again just before continuing on the controversial $1 billion program to expand a 3-mile extend of Interstate-94 connecting the Marquette and Zoo interchanges.
The DOT introduced Thursday it will undertake a supplemental environmental effects statement on the job. The research will give the company time to evaluate changes in targeted traffic designs ensuing from the pandemic, and to obtain additional general public enter, Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson said in assertion.
Thompson mentioned it will also make sure racial fairness is accomplished. The freeway undertaking borders residences in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Milwaukee, which would be affected by the expansion.
Thompson mentioned he believes the expanded public overview system will help the DOT to obtain ultimate federal approval of the project as early as late 2022.
“Carrying out very little about this portion of highway is not an selection,” Thompson explained. “This growing old stretch of highway is a person of the most risky roadways in the condition. We have seen crash charges decrease dramatically in the portions of the southeast interstates that have presently been modernized, so we know that upgrading the East/West Corridor will reduce injuries and pointless fatalities.”
The venture was halted in 2016 by previous Gov. Scott Walker and brought again in 2020 by Gov. Tony Evers.
In February, the Milwaukee Prevalent Council directed city lobbyists to inquire the Federal Highway Administration not to allow the growth to transfer ahead devoid of a new environmental affect examine.
Council members say visitors patterns have transformed because the project was initially accredited, and at the extremely least, a new study wants to be completed. They say reconstruction of the 60-year-aged highway procedure is vital, but about $250 million can be saved by not increasing it from a few lanes to 4 on every single facet.
Alder Robert Bauman, who signifies a portion of the district effected by the construction, said the determination is a action in the right route.
“This will allow them to in essence retrace their methods on the first natural environment affect statement in phrases of work styles, commuting designs in the corridor. Possibly look at mass transit options as aspect of the general venture,” Bauman mentioned.
The challenge depends seriously on federal funds. Final thirty day period a group of opponents sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg expressing their concern. On April 9, they achieved with Stephanie Pollack, deputy administrator of the Federal Freeway Administration.
Megan Severson, state director for Wisconsin Surroundings, was at the meeting and stated Thursday stated the DOT’s conclusion to do yet another atmosphere examine is great news, but her coalition will nevertheless be performing to make certain I-94 is not widened in Milwaukee.
“We know historically that introducing freeway lanes seldom outcomes in congestion aid particularly with site visitors designs altering for the reason that of COVID-19, it is critical to be thoughtful about how we devote our transportation bucks in Wisconsin and across the country,” Severson explained.