Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Block Billion-Dollar I-94 Boondoggle

Citizen coalition has the argument and the data to back it up:

Broad Coalition Opposes “Billion Dollar Boondoggle” Highway 94 Expansion

Milwaukee, WI – A coalition of community-based civil rights, environmental and religious organizations, children and community advocates held a press conference to stop the expensive and unnecessary expansion of Highway 94 from N. 16th St. to 70th St. 

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT) is considering a $1.2 billion widening of the highway between Marquette the Zoo Interchanges; project plans include a massive double decker structure that would have devastating impacts on our communities, families, children and the environment. 

“This costly highway widening would divide our neighborhoods, increase air and noise pollution, pollute our waterways, while diverting over a billion dollars away from the repair of our crumbling roads and bridges and the transit that connects workers to jobs and prosperity,” said Juan Carlos Ruiz, Chair of the Cleaner Milwaukee Coalition. “Some residents are also concerned that this construction could bring down their property values.”

WISDOT held a public meeting on the project to share updated project plans and details at the Pettit National Ice Center on Monday from 3pm to 7pm.

“This billion dollar boondoggle is another costly highway expansion that will divert hundreds of millions of dollars away from the repair of our crumbling roads and bridges and the local repair needs that are currently underfunded,” said Bruce Speight, WISPIRG Director.  “Wisconsin taxpayers should not be footing the bill for highways that aren’t needed.  We want and need better transportation options in our communities.”

A big rationale for expanding I-94 is to accommodate increases in driving, but in actuality Wisconsinites have been driving less.  Wisconsinites drove fewer total miles in 2012 than we did in 2003 – a time when Wisconsin’s population was four percent lower and our economy seven percent smaller. Today, the average Wisconsin resident drives fewer miles than in 1997 – more than a decade and a half ago.

At the same time, the increases in traffic that were supposed to justify many of the expensive highways Wisconsin has built in recent decades haven’t materialized. A May 2013 WISPIRG Foundation report found that the traffic counts on seven recently-completed highways – totaling over $1 billion in taxpayer investment - have not materialized.

Other studies have found that the Millennial generation, the young talent we seek to attract to our cities, is seeking a different transportation future and increasingly wants to settle in communities where they can get around without a car.  But, state leaders in recent years have cut funding for local transportation infrastructure and options like more and better transit in the state budget. 

The coalition will work to educate the community and state taxpayers about the “Billion Dollar Boondoggle” and the need to stop this expensive and unnecessary highway expansion, and to provide better transportation options instead. 

# # #

Participants in the Coalition to Stop the ‘Billion Dollar Boondoggle’ include: the Cleaner Milwaukee Coalition, Story Hill Neighborhood Association, Hunger Task Force, WISPIRG, Sierra Club Gathering Waters Group and John Muir Chapter, MICAH, the Milwaukee Transit Riders Union, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Voices, and WISPIRG.

Bruce Speight
Director, WISPIRG
Office: (608) 251-9501
Direct: (608) 268-0510

1 comment:

Corey said...

you said miles driven are down, which is factual, but that is statewide.... What is the trend of vehicle miles specifically on I94?