Business, labor, community representatives, and economic development organizations stress the importance of the corridor’s modernization with an added lane in each direction for safety, jobs, and economic growth.
A group of community and business leaders met with Federal Highway Administration Acting Administrator Stephanie Pollack and other Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) representatives on Monday. The coalition discussed the 60-year-old I-94 East-West Corridor and the once-in-a-generation opportunity provided by the corridor’s reconstruction.
“We are very appreciative of Administrator Pollack and her team’s time,” said Keith Stanley, executive director of the Near Wear Side Partners and member of the I-94 East-West Econ Connect coalition. “It was a great meeting, and we are committed to working with FHWA, WisDOT, and area communities to help ensure the I-94 East-West Corridor project improves mobility and connectivity and is a win for a broad coalition of stakeholders.”
The I-94 East-West Corridor, which runs between the Marquette and Zoo interchanges, was originally built in the early 1960s. The corridor’s 1950s design, age, and ongoing deterioration result in congestion, safety, and economic development challenges. Left-side ramps, narrow shoulders, short weaving distances, other outdated features, and congestion contribute to an average crash rate two to three times higher than the statewide urban freeway average.
“We see a path forward to both improve the freeway with safety improvements and added capacity, while also prioritizing transit and other transportation options through traffic mitigation,” commented Regional Transit Leadership Council Executive Director Dave Steele. “We support the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s decision to move directly to a supplemental environmental impact statement to have time to evaluate current data, and we appreciate WisDOT’s interest in additional public input. This is a once–in–a–generation opportunity, and we must get this project right.”
Last week, the coalition released poll results showing overwhelming support within Milwaukee and Waukesha counties for the corridor’s modernization with added capacity. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed drive this vital but outdated stretch of Interstate at least once a month, with 28 percent using it weekly. Support for reconstructing and modernizing the corridor with safety improvements and an additional lane in each direction was consistently high across all demographic, geographic, and political subgroups.
A downloadable version is available here.