Bauman calls for redirection of state transit funds

A recent ruling by federal Judge Lynn Adelman finding that the state Department of Transportation’s Environmental Impact Statement supporting the $1.7 billion taxpayer-funded rebuilding and expansion of the Zoo Interchange is deficient and violates federal law sends a strong message that unrestrained highway building and expansion in southeastern Wisconsin at the expense of public transit and other projects must be stopped, Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman said today.


Bauman, a longtime transit advocate and chair of the Common Council’s Public Works Committee, said Adelman’s decision “is a strong endorsement that southeastern Wisconsin’s transportation needs must be reflected in balanced investments in local roads, freeways and transit which serve the economic and social needs of all citizens and all areas of the region.”

The issues raised in Adelman’s decision, Bauman said, are also present in the current environmental review process for the rebuilding and potential expansion of Interstate 94 from North 25th Street to North 70th Street.

The cost estimates for this project range from $370 million to reconstruct the freeway in its current configuration to $1.2 billion to rebuild and expand the freeway (which includes sections of double decking through the Story Hill neighborhood and moving the entire right-of-way in the Merrill Park neighborhood).

Bauman said the DOT should immediately suspend the environmental review process for the I-94 project and cancel public information meetings scheduled for May 21 and 22, so that the impact of Adelman’s decision on the project can be fully assessed.

In the meantime, Bauman is recommending the DOT immediately consider a new alternative to spend $370 million to reconstruct I-94 from 25th Street to 70th  Street and allocate the savings between this option and the expansion option – as much as $830 million – to three other infrastructure investments. Specifically, Bauman said the state should spend one third of the savings on repairing and reconstructing local roads and streets which, especially in Milwaukee, are in badly deteriorated condition. Bauman also is calling on the state to spend one third of the savings on repairing other state highways and bridges and another third on expanding the Milwaukee Streetcar to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on the east side, Miller Park on the west side, the 30th Street Corridor on the north side and to Walker’s Point on the south side.

This new alternative would represent a balanced approach to investing in transportation infrastructure which is precisely what Adelman’s decision urges, Bauman said.

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