Plans unveiled for I-94 expansion, leaving some upset Milwaukee residents

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — Plans for the future expansion of I-94 were unveiled today, upsetting residents in Milwaukee’s Story Hill neighborhood. But state officials say the eight-lane alternative is better.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials say they are looking to the future. They point to a DOT study that predicts eight lanes would result in fewer accidents than six over the next 15 years, but neighbors say there’s more to the story.

Two opposing viewpoints argue about what happens to this section of I-94 between 70th and 16th Roads that need upgrading.

“I understand the congestion on the freeway, but it’s not as bad as people make it out to be,” said Ed Calvey, resident of Story Hill.

Ed Calvey has had a front yard view of the east-west corridor since it was built.

“I can tell you I was on the very first freeway ride when it first opened,” Calvey said.

Those who live along the freeway fear freeway expansion could lead to more pollution and lower property values…and…

“More lanes mean more traffic and more noise, higher speeds on the freeway, and they’re concerned about that,” said Peter Burgelis, District 15, Milwaukee County executive chairman.

Some Story Hill residents say a “fix-at-six” solution is the way to go, citing six lanes as safer than eight.

“The eight-lane design option narrows the roadway to a nip right at the cemetery, and instead of an 11-foot lane, you have a 10-foot lane,” Burgelis said.

But the Federal Highway Administration and DOT say the east-west corridor should be expanded to eight lanes. The project would replace the stadium hub with a diverging diamond hub and modernize the hubs at Hawley, 35th and 25./27. connect the Hank Aaron State Trail to the Oak Leaf Trail and reduce traffic on local roads. But opponents have concerns.

“This was incredibly disappointing news for us and our coalition,” said 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin’s Transportation Policy Director Gregg May.

The $1.2 billion plan is $40 million more than the six-lane alternative, which was rejected because it could not guarantee acceptable travel times and service levels by 2040.

“We just think it’s irresponsible to spend that kind of money, more than $1 billion at a time when the Milwaukee County Transit Service is facing a fiscal cliff,” May said.

“Just respect our neighborhood, respect Milwaukee, and consider the fact that if you lived here, you wouldn’t want to either,” Calvey said.

It’s not a closed deal, and it’s time for Wisconsinites to comment at two upcoming public hearings in December.

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