Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:24 pm
Busalacchi says Marquette Interchange proposals are not compatible
By Steve Jagler, of SBT
Although the state and the city are pedaling dueling plans for the Marquette Interchange, don’t expect the eventual plan to be a hybrid of the two proposals.
At least, that’s the opinion of Frank Busalacchi, who was appointed secretary of transportation by new Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.
Busalacchi inherited a $911 million Marquette Interchange plan from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT).
In January, Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist proposed an alternative plan that would cost $550 million.
"In my viewpoint, it’s one or the other," Busalacchi said.
The DOT plan was devised after two years of gathering public input, which revealed consensus agreement that the new interchange should be kept in the same basic footprint at the existing interchange.
The state plan would move all left-hand on-ramps and off-ramps to the right and expand most one-lane ramps to two lanes.
Other elements of the DOT plan include: keeping the ramps on Interstate 94 eastbound at 13th Street to maintain access to Marquette University and the Menomonee River Valley; maintaining access to Plankinton Avenue from I-794 for motorists driving on I-43 from the north and south; and realigning 11th Street to improve access to I-43.
The state plan was selected by former Gov. Scott McCallum.
Norquist and his staff responded with an alternative, which they say will save the $361 million.
Norquist’s "Affordable Improvement Reconstruction Plan" would:
" Develop the Zoo Interchange as a bypass for truck and through-traffic currently routed through the Marquette Interchange, thereby saving construction and land acquisition costs.
" Replace the most severe left-hand ramps.
" Incorporate "value engineering" standards, which are cost-benefit guidelines to ensure project goals are achieved at the lowest costs.
In essence, Norquist’s plan would redesignate the current I-894 as the throughway for I-94, reducing traffic through the Marquette Interchange.
"The Marquette Interchange Affordable Reconstruction Plan keeps the project on schedule, improves the interchange and meets Milwaukee’s transportation needs," Norquist said.
Doyle said the state budget crisis could delay the start of the project one year, from this year to 2004.
Norquist argued that his cheaper plan could keep the four-year project on schedule.
Doyle said the eventual plan may not be as extensive as the full-scale upgrade proposed by the DOT or as lean as Norquist’s proposal.
However, Busalacchi says the scope of the plan would need to be one or the other, since they are fundamentally different.
"Our plan is a complete redesign, and the other one isn’t. The governor is committed to doing it and doing it right and to making it efficient," Busalacchi said. "We analyzed it at the DOT and sent it on to the governor, and he’s going to look at it."
Busalacchi planned to visit federal transportation officials in Washington, D.C., this week, to discuss federal funding for Wisconsin’s transportation needs, which also include a commuter rail study.
At press time, Busalacchi’s appointment as the state’s secretary of transportation had not yet been confirmed by the state Senate. The former secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 200 in Milwaukee has been discussing his qualifications with individual senators for several weeks.
"I think I only have two senators left to see. It’s going very well. I have been very well received," he said.
March 3, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee