Plans unveiled for I-94 expansion, leaving some upset Milwaukee residents

NOW: Plans unveiled for I-94 expansion, leaving some upset Milwaukee residents

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Plans unveiled today for the future expansion of I-94, upsetting residents in Milwaukee's Story Hill neighborhood. But state officials say the eight-lane alternative is a better one.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials say they're looking to the future. They're pointing to a DOT study which predicts in the next 15 years, eight lanes would result in less crashes than six, but neighbors say there's more to the story.

Two opposing viewpoints are weighing in on what to do about this stretch of I-94 between 70th and 16th streets that needs to be modernized.

"I understand the congestion over on the freeway but it's not as bad as people make it out to be," said Ed Calvey, Story Hill resident.

Ed Calvey has had a front yard view of the east-west corridor since it was built.

"I can tell you this I was on the very first freeway ride when it first opened up," said Calvey.

Those who live along the freeway fear a freeway expansion could result in more pollution and lower property values…and..

"More lanes of traffic means more traffic and more noise, higher speeds on the freeway and they're concerned about it," said Milwaukee County board supervisor Peter Burgelis, district 15.

Some Story Hill residents say a "fix-at-six" solution is the way to go, calling six lanes safer than eight.

"The eight-lane design option narrows the roadway to a pinch point right at the cemetery and instead of an 11-foot lane, you have a 10-foot lane," said Burgelis.

But the Federal Highway Administration and DOT say the east-west corridor should be expanded to eight lanes. The project would replace the stadium interchange with a diverging diamond interchange, modernize the interchanges of Hawley, 35th and 25/27th, connect the Hank Aaron State Trail with the Oak Leaf Trail, and reduce traffic volume on local roads. But opponents have concerns.

"It's been an incredibly disappointing piece of news for us and our coalition," said 1,000 friends of Wisconsin's Transportation Policy Director Gregg May.

The $1.2 billion plan is $40 million higher than the six-lane alternative that was voted out because it couldn't guarantee acceptable travel times and service levels by the year 2040.

"We just think it's irresponsible to be spending this kind of money, more than a billion dollars at a time when Milwaukee County Transit Service is facing a fiscal cliff," said May.

"Just respect our neighborhood, respect Milwaukee and consider the fact that if you lived here, you wouldn't want it either," said Calvey.

It's not a done deal yet, and there's time for Wisconsinites to weigh in at two upcoming public hearings in December.

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