Yesterday, two groups supporting racial and environmental justice filed a federal lawsuit in Madison, seeking to block the Wisconsin Department of Transportation from spending $1.7 billion to rebuild and expand Milwaukee's Zoo Interchange at the same time that public transit is being slashed.

The lawsuit, brought by the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin (BHCW) and Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), 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,” Rev. Willie Brisco, MICAH President, said.

“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,” said BHCW president and CEO Dr. Patricia McManus.

“Allowing multi-billion-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.”

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/.

The ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation is a non-profit civil liberties and civil rights organization working to protect the rights of Wisconsinites. For more on the work of the American Civil Liberties Union and Foundation of Wisconsin, visit our webpage, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @ACLUofWisconsin and @ACLUMadison. Read more news and opinion on civil liberties in Wisconsin on the Forward for Liberty blog.

Midwest Environmental Advocates is a non-profit environmental law center that works for healthy water, healthy air, healthy land and healthy government for this generation and the next. MEA believes that every citizen has the potential to make a difference. Learn more about MEA on their website, midwestadvocates.org.

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