1. The price is too high
WisDOT plans to spend $1.2 billion on I-94. Yes, the I-94 expansion would cost Milwaukee taxpayers over a billion dollars - much of it wasteful and unnecessary.
But when highways are built and expanded, surrounding neighborhoods pay an even higher price. Community members are left with the environmental costs and fewer transportation options.
2. It continues a racist legacy
Historically, it has been communities of color that have faced much of this harm. For example, freeway expansion in the 1960s devastated the thriving Bronzeville neighborhood, exacerbating segregation and racialized poverty in Milwaukee.
An expansion would only worsen the inequities caused by the original highway construction.
3. It disproportionately benefits white people
The proposed expansion of I-94 has been designed to help mostly white and affluent suburbanites get to Downtown Milwaukee just a few minutes faster.
Meanwhile, the residents living near the proposed expansion are disproportionately people of color, facing the environmental and economic burdens while not receiving the same benefits. Because people of color are more likely to rely on public transportation, investing in highways while public transit capacity declines is not fair for these communities.
4. It’s a short-term traffic solution
Widening the freeway is a short-term solution that simply encourages more car travel without addressing the root issues of congestion. And traffic often returns worse than before.
Studies show that new highways motivate more people to drive. In the case of I-94, it is estimated that construction of the eight-lane alternative would encourage people to drive an additional 33-49 million miles each year. In fact, WisDOT’s own report acknowledges that there will continue to be congestion.
WisDOT claims that I-94 must be expanded because of unbearable congestion. Strangely and unfortunately, the agency’s best idea to reduce congestion – building more highway lanes – is outdated, wasteful, and ineffective.
5. It sets back environmental justice
In the face of intense climate change, environmental pollution, and racial inequities and segregation, the agency should be considering 21st solutions like expanded public transit and paths for walking and biking.
Car commuting exacerbates environmental harms which disproportionately affect communities of color. It would be shameful for WisDOT to incentivize driving while overlooking a more sustainable and equitable alternative.
6. There is a more sustainable and equitable solution
Fix At Six is a safer option that would better meet the current and future needs of Milwaukeeans.
Rather than widening I-94, Fix At Six demands that necessary safety improvements be made to the freeway while keeping it at six lanes, allowing for crucial investment in pressing transportation needs such as road repair and accessible transit.
Fix At Six presents 4 elements for a sustainable and community-based vision for I-94:
- Repair the pavement and bridges of the current six lanes.
- Add a new bus rapid transit line along National and Greenfield avenues.
- Promote thriving, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods.
- Explore future opportunities to maximize sustainable and equitable alternatives.