I-94 East-West project; opinions shared with transportation committee

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is advancing the long-stalled I-94 East-West expansion, but there is one more push to tap the brakes: a Milwaukee County Board committee urges the state not to expand but to fix the six-lane roadway.

Back in 2016, the state said it would need to tear down eight houses as part of the I-94 expansion project. The latest plan says only one needs to be razed.

"We were trying to fix up the property, and once I got the official call that it was a go, the house is being destroyed, my energy level went," said Valerie Wright, who lives next to I-94. "I don’t know where I’m gonna go. I can afford rent, here. It’s a single family home, amazing rent."

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) plan says they need the one home to make room for the new interstate. The state's preferred plan calls for expanding the stretch of freeway from six lanes to eight – between 70th Street and 16th Street.

For four years, Wright has rented a Milwaukee house along with her husband and four kids. 

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

"I understand why it needs to be fixed. We see accidents here every day. Every day we see an accident out here," Wright said. 

Valerie Wright

State data shows from 2015 to 2019, there was an average of 1.3 crashes a day in the I-94 east-west corridor. Officials say the plan will replace aging infrastructure and reduce congestion.

But all Milwaukeeans speaking to the Milwaukee County Board's Transportation Committee on Tuesday, Nov. 29 opposed the expansion.

"It’s unwarranted," said Daniel Baker. 

"Traffic has been flat along this corridor for 20 years. Do we need to build a bigger highway for flat traffic? Milwaukee ranks low in congestion," said Robin Palm.

"If you can't drive on six lanes, how in the world are you going to drive on six lanes?" asked a woman speaking to the committee.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android

Some written comments supported the project. 

"Feedback we're getting from a lot of engineers, etc. that the 6-lane will not solve the severe congestion," said Milwaukee County Supervisor Patti Logsdon.

The committee voted 3-1 to advance a non-binding resolution opposing the expansion. It calls for the state to fix the six lanes. Logsdon voted no on the resolution. It now goes in front of the full county board in December.

I-94 east-west corridor

The construction is still a couple of years into the future – giving the Wrights some time to find a new home.

"It’s hard. I don’t know," Wright told FOX6. "I feel like we’re getting the short end of the stick everywhere we turn."

During Tuesday's committee meeting, the WisDOT representative said they would help both the owner and the renters impacted by the project. 

Share your opinion

Two public hearings are scheduled to December for residents to share their thoughts:

Monday, Dec. 12 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Wisconsin State Fair Park, Tommy Thompson Youth Center, Gate 5
  • 640 S. 84th Street, Milwaukee
  • Transit access via MCTS Route 33.

Wednesday, Dec. 14 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Marquette University High School (enter from Michigan Street parking lot)
  • 3401 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee
  • Transit access via MCTS Routes: 35, 30 and Gold Line.