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Wisconsin DOT proposes East-West I-94 rebuild to be a fix at eight, instead of 'Fix At Six'

The I-94 East-West Freeway in June, 2022.
Chuck Quirmbach
The I-94 East-West Freeway in June, 2022.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is again proposing to rebuild the I-94 East-West Freeway in Milwaukee County at eight lanes, instead of the current six.

Community groups have been pushing for a so-called Fix At Six option, saying it would lead to less noise and pollution in the heavily populated rebuild corridor between roughly 16th and 70th streets on Milwaukee's west side.

WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson tells WUWM that a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement finds that eight lanes is the better way to go.

"Really looking at the current traffic patterns, we looked at the recent numbers post-pandemic. The crash rates are significantly higher than in other areas. The merging that comes out of eight lanes from the Zoo, and then going back to eight lanes in the Marquette is causing significant safety concerns with crashes, and our traffic people believe this was the best option," Thompson says.

Thompson says the eight-lane plan would only require one home to be moved.

Along cemeteries just west of American Family Field, the four lanes each way would be narrower. But the WisDOT leader says elsewhere in the roughly three mile corridor, there is enough right-of-way for regular width lanes.

Thompson says the state would spend $25 million on mass transit options during construction, and that a proposed re-build of the Stadium Interchange would be closer to the ground and less expensive.

Community groups display a Fix At Six sign during a news conference along I-94 earlier this year.
Chuck Quirmbach
Community groups display a Fix At Six sign during a news conference along I-94 earlier this year.

Still, there is some early heat for the plan. Two west side Milwaukee alderpersons say the eight lanes are unnecessary and unwanted by those living closest to the freeway.

The Coalition for More Responsible Transportation, which includes the Milwaukee religious group, MICAH, says the eight-lane project would "perpetuate the negative impacts of highway expansions on communities of color."

WisDOT will hold two public hearings next month on what you might call its Fix at Eight proposal.

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