Two Wisconsin organizations are suing to block another $1.7 billion in freeway expansion funding in the Zoo Interchange aimed at serving suburban commuters while urban transit systems are starved for funding:
...the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin (BHCW) and Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) filed suit in federal court in Madison, seeking to block the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s efforts to spend $1.7 billion to rebuild and expand the Zoo Interchange at the same time transit is being slashed. The lawsuit challenges the decisions of WisDOT and federal transportation officials to approve the project without including any transit component.
“One of MICAH’s biggest concerns is the extreme and unacceptable rate of joblessness in the central city, for persons of color in general and African-American men in particular,” stated Rev. Willie Brisco, MICAH President. “We all know that people of color depend on transit to get to work at all. We need more transit – to more places where the jobs are – not just highways that don’t help these members of our community get to work.”
The Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin follows World Health Organization policies and principles holding that you cannot have healthy people in a sick community,” added BHCW President/CEO, Dr. Patricia McManus. “Allowing multibillion-dollar highway projects to move forward while transit moves backwards reduces the opportunities to access health care, education, and other needs, as well as employment. And expanding highways while cutting transit also hurts our air quality, which is already much worse this year than it was last year.”The $6.5 billion regional freeway expansion - - including the completed Marquette Interchange project and partially-finished work on I-94 between Milwaukee and the Illinois state line - - was recommended by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, on which the City of Milwaukee and its residents have no voting commissioner.
BHCW and MICAH are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin Foundation and by Midwest Environmental Advocates, both non-profit organizations that support environmental justice.
A copy of the lawsuit is available at http://forwardforliberty.org/2012/08/07/zoointerchangelawsuitfiled/.
Additional work under the plan is being proposed for I-43 north of Milwaukee into Ozaukee County and on I-94 between Story Hill near Miller Park and the Zoo Interchange.