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The I-94 expansion debate continues as officials meet Thursday

Posted at 9:07 AM, Apr 22, 2021

Happening today - expanding about a five mile stretch of I-94 will be at the center of a Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors meeting this morning. Members will vote again on whether to try and put the brakes on the proposed billion dollar expansion of I-94 between the Marquette and Zoo interchanges.

This debate has been going on for years. Originally, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration were expected to approve the plans by the end of this year. But, WisDOT has pushed that date back to next year so that officials have more time to review plans.

The idea is to expand the stretch of highway between 16th and 70th streets. This is an area that often gets jammed and is no stranger to crashes. Most of Milwaukee County's Board of Supervisors have made it clear that they don't support plans that are in the works to update the freeway here.

In total, the project would cost about a billion dollars. Less than five miles of the highway would be expanded in both directions. There are civil rights groups and Milwaukee leaders that have been pressuring the state to conduct more studies and the federal government to reject plans.

The Milwaukee Common Council also signaled that it doesn't support the project. In a resolution that passed by the County Board earlier this year, 16 of 17 board members signaled that the project should be thrown out. But their vote was vetoed by County Executive David Crowley.

The goal today is to override that veto. A resolution set to be discussed at a meeting today reaffirms the board's opposition suggests that the pandemic may have changed the way people work — and therefore fewer people may be commuting as work from home becomes more normal.

Another concern is the noise and pollution this project could create. The resolution says this project expanding the interstate is like "Loosening a belt to solve obesity " — allowing for the same traffic jams on a wider highway.

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