Tuesday, December 06, 2022


From Coulee Region Sierra Club:

Call the Governor! Stop the I-94 expansion


For more than a decade, environmental, social justice, and transportation equity groups have been fighting an expansion to I-94 in Milwaukee first proposed during the Walker administration. After years of citizen action, including a law suit, Scott Walker pulled the plug. 

Inexplicably, Governor Evers resurrected the project in 2020 and the fight is on again. Read the history of the I-94 expansion here.https://www.sierraclub.org/wisconsin/blog/2020/07/stop-zombiehighway

Pushing back on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) plans to expand the highway, a coalition of groups produced a "Fix at Six" alternative, prioritizing fixing the existing roadway, retaining the six lanes, and offering other ways to improve transportation in the area, including support for public transit.

Late last month, WisDOT announced that it still plans to expand the higway to eight lanes and increase the footprint of the project. This is not an acceptable answer. 

Expanding highways does NOT alleviate congestion. In fact, in many cases, congestion increases as more people try to drive on the roadway. 

The I-94 has already caused harm to communities of color by cutting through neighborhoods and business areas, increasing noise and air pollution, and making local transportation more difficult.

With a price tag of more than $1 billion, this project is too expensive, will not solve identified problems, and will make things worse for the people who live in the community. 

This is a concern for everyone in our state. A climate governor would not be proposing even more highway expansions. That money could be better spent on improving public transportation, especially regional and rural transportation, that will seriously address the climate crisis. 

Be aware that WisDOT is not being clear about its latest plan, which incorporates a few of the Fix at Six ideas but is NOT Fix at Six.


The Wisconsin Sierra Club, as part of the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation, has created a call script. We are asking everyone - especially climate and transit activists - to call the Governor's office on Wednesday and strongly urge him to stop the expansion of the highway and back the Fix at Six proposal that was produced by the people of the state.

When you are finished calling, please report your call the Sierra Club using the link below.


Call Governor Evers' office about the I-94 expansion project in Milwaukee that his administration is pushing forward.

Phone number to call: (608) 266-1212

Sample script to use:
Hello, this is [NAME]. I am a Wisconsin resident in [CITY]. I'm calling because I was disappointed to see the Governor's Department of Transportation continue with the I-94 expansion in Milwaukee. 

I'm concerned about this project because [PICK ONE OR MORE POINTS BELOW]:
  • Transportation is a leading cause of carbon emissions, and studies like Transportation 4 America's Congestion Con report demonstrate that adding lanes increases car use and traffic congestion. Continuing to invest in high-emitting infrastructure is not something that a climate champion would do. 

  • Highway expansion projects have harmed Communities of Color and Low Income Communities. Federal Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has called for tax dollars to be used to right the wrongs of racist infrastructure policy decisions. He said "we've also seen countless cases around the country where a piece of infrastructure cuts off a neighborhood or a community because of how it was built." I expect Governor Evers to align with the Biden administration in making racially just decisions on infrastructure in our state.

I hope that Governor Evers will right this error by pushing for WISDOT to study a new alternative that actually addresses the concerns of the community and that repairs the highway in its current footprint, with 6 lanes and an interchange that is not overbuilt, and minimizes air and water pollution and negative impacts to community resources like Valley Park. Additionally, I hope that Governor Evers will prioritize transit, walking and biking funding moving forward.
After you've made your call, please fill out the form! And consider writing comments to submit to WisDOT by January 1.
Here's more information from the 2020 Wisconsin Sierra Club blog about the project:

The I-94 expansion project was and still is a bad idea for so many reasons:

  1. It would worsen the climate crisis. The transportation sector is the largest contributor to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the US. Expanding highway infrastructure that caters to single passenger traffic will increase carbon emissions. This project is in direct conflict with the expressed goals of the Governor’s Climate Task Force.  Here’s the bottom line: climate-friendly governors do not expand highways.

  2. It would negatively impact public health. Because highway expansion almost always increases the number of cars on the road, air pollution increases with these projects. Traffic pollution causes asthma, cardiovascular disease and dementia. Entertaining the idea of expanding a highway during a pandemic is inexcusable.

  3. It would exacerbate racial injustice. Wisconsin’s decades-long focus on highway transportation investments has worsened the region’s racial and economic segregation. Not only are highways a physical barrier, but they also increase air pollution in the surrounding communities - which are Communities of Color.  In 2014, the federal government found that the Zoo Interchange caused “irreparable harm,” to minority communities. This project on the same corridor is no different. Members of low-income and minority communities often lack reliable transportation options. Yet, this project is being reconsidered even at a time of heightened awareness about structural racism in Wisconsin.

  1. It would be costly. Spending money (an estimated $1 billion) on this project at the expense of fixing our local roads and repairing our existing road and transit infrastructure is a big price to pay for a mere 3.5 miles of interstate. Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s public transportation system and local road system are languishing due to lack of investment.

  2. It would not fix congestion as proponents of the project suggest; in fact - highway expansions often make congestion worse shortly after construction is complete! This is because of induced demand -- essentially “if you build it, they will come.” Why should a damaging project move forward to make the very thing proponents of the project want to solve even worse?

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