New Governor, Same Billion Dollar Freeway Expansion Plan

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is picking up a plan previously championed and abandoned by former Gov. Scott Walker: The North-South expansion of I-94 west of Milwaukee.

2 minute read

July 13, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

I-94 North-South Project

I-94 expansion rendering, created in 2015. / WisDOT via Urban Milwaukee

Shawn Johnson reports: "Gov. Tony Evers announced Wednesday that his administration will try to revive a $1.1 billion expansion of Interstate 94 west of Milwaukee, a project abandoned years ago by former Gov. Scott Walker amid concerns over its cost."

"Evers, who ran for governor in 2018 on a pledge to 'fix the damn roads,' announced his plan in a written statement, calling the I-94 east-west highway in Milwaukee County one of the most congested in the state," according to Johnson.

"While nothing is final, an earlier version of the proposed expansion called for a complete rebuild of roughly three-and-a-half miles of I-94 east-west in Milwaukee County, from 70th Street to 16th Street. That proposal called for adding an additional lane of traffic in each direction, expanding what is currently a six-lane highway to eight lanes."

The plan, which made U.S. PIRG's and the Frontier Group's 2018 list of the nation's worst highway boondoggles,  also got caught up in the controversies surrounding former Gov. Walker's effort to attract Foxconn to nearby Racine County. The state's ability to play for large highway projects is still very much up for debate, as Gov. Evers and Republican legislators debate the mechanism for raising transportation revenue in the state. 

Additional Planetizen coverage of the I-94 debate during the Walker administration:

  • I-94 to Expand Out (Not Up) in Milwaukee (February 2015)
  • The Implications of Southeast Wisconsin's $7 Billion in Freeway Projects (July 2015)
  • Civil Right Groups, Environmentalists Team Up to Block Milwaukee Highway Expansion (March 2017)
  • Confronting Wisconsin's $1.1 Billion Highway Widening Proposal (October 2017)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 in Wisconsin Public Radio

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