Stop Excessive Freeway Expansion

The state Department of Transportation has submitted its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the I-94 corridor east of 76th street. The Wauwatosa Common Council is on record as opposing the planned expansion and reduction of Wauwatosa exits. 

Dianne Dagelen, a member of the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation, offered testimony at the Wauwatosa Transportation Affairs Committee that nicely summarizes the objections to the DOT's plan. It is available below.

We encourage you to offer you comments to DOT. Comments on the Final EIS must be received or postmarked by March 14, 2016. Comments may be mailed to Jason Lynch, WisDOT 141 N.W. Barstow St., Waukesha, WI 53187 or emailed to Jason.Lynch@dot.wi.gov.

 

From Dianne Dagelen

Wis DOT has submitted their final EIS on the I-94 Corridor.  Contrary to the Wauwatosa Resolution passed unanimously by the Wauwatosa Common Council on October 6th, their plan is to add an extra lane in each direction and to take out half of the Hawley Road ramps.  This will be a waste of taxpayer money for an expansion that residents do not want or need, and will put semi-trailers on N. 68th St. going to State St. deliveries.  In addition, DOT's plan fails to include any transit option that would serve both our younger and senior populations.  I urge you to send your Comments to WisDOT.  

Below is my presentation to the Traffic Affairs Committee last summer with the rationale as to why the Corridor should not be expanded.  Thank you.

My name is Dianne Dagelen.  I live at 8444 Hill St. in Wauwatosa where I have been a resident since 1976.

Thank you for inviting us to speak to you tonight.

I’m a member of the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation which consists of more than 25 local and state-wide faith-based, environmental, health, business and community groups, and neighborhood associations. 

We agree with WisDOT that the I-94 Corridor between 17th and 70th Streets needs to be rebuilt.  Its infrastructure is failing.  We agree that safety improvements are needed, such as moving exits from the left to right lane, etching pavement and lengthening ramps. 

However, we do not agree on how these goals of reconstruction and safety should be met, or on how much taxpayers should pay for them.

WisDOT proposes expanding the 3.5mile Corridor to 4 lanes in each direction at a cost of $850 million.  Much of this amount will come from borrowing at unsustainable levels.  With debt the fastest-growing portion of the state’s transportation budget, these obligations will be paid off on the backs of our children and our grandchildren.   The Coalition proposes maintaining 3 lanes each way in the current footprint plus spot safety improvements, at a cost (that WisDOT reported to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) of only $400 million

WisDOT proposes removing the eastern half of the Hawley Rd. ramps—even though they report receiving overwhelming input from stake-holders to maintain all-ramp access.  Residents along 68th St. would have to absorb Hawley Rd. semi- trailers hauling goods for Pik‘NSave and Sentry Foods on State St.  The neighborhood, including Hunger Task Force, would lose ramp access to and from downtown.  Our Coalition proposes retaining all Hawley Rd ramps by maintaining 6 lanes instead of 8 lanes, which is the only way that this retention is possible.

WisDOT proposes that increasing lanes is necessary to adequately address their projected daily traffic increase and its accompanying congestion.  They predict that I-94 Corridor traffic will increase at 0.5% during the next 28 years, or at 23% by 2040.   But that’s unlikely to happen.  On the contrary, DOT’s own records show that between 2000 and 2012, ADT steadily decreased by 8%.  This is a national as well as a local and state-wide trend. 

The traffic decline is due to changes in demographics, the way people live, work and choose to get around.   For example, baby boomers, now retiring in record numbers, and those who increasingly work from home or take college courses on line, or shop on the internet use their cars less than before.  With driving in decline, the expansion of I-94 is not necessary.  And it is not the best use of our tax payers’ money.

Hundreds of Comments were collected by WisDOT during their open house planning and listening sessions over more than a two year period, including formal Public Hearings.   Of those comments, more than 80% were opposed to any expansion of the I-94 Corridor, be it with a double deck or by adding extra lanes.  Furthermore, both the city of Milwaukee Common Council and the Board of Milwaukee County Supervisors have passed Resolutions opposing additional lanes, similar to the Resolution before you tonight.

In addition to not expanding the I-94 Corridor, our Coalition proposes that WisDOT include a transit system parallel to I-94 to accommodate those without access to automobiles, connecting them to major economic and activity centers such as Mayfair Mall, the Regional Medical Center and downtown Milwaukee.  This new transit system paralleling the I-94 Corridor could be built well within the remaining $450 million saved by not expanding the corridor to four lanes.

In Wauwatosa, those without cars are primarily seniors.  Many seniors need transit for their basic living needs, for their safety (since many drive beyond when they are able to), and to avoid isolation which impairs their quality of life.    (13,347 Tosa senior respondents)

In Wauwatosa, according to the 2010 US Census, more than 18% are over 65 years of age; and 28.8% of our citizens are over 55—soon to join those over 65.   In 2008, the Wauwatosa Senior Commission, of which I am a member, completed a Senior Transportation Assessment for Tosa residents over 55.  It identified that 28.6% of respondents no longer drive their automobiles.  Of those who did drive a car, 21% did so only when no one else was available to drive them, with more than two thirds of those finding it “difficult” to find a driver when needed.  And 44% of senior drivers stated that they “worry about driving safely”. 

 

So why do seniors continue to drive when they no longer should?  It’s not that they like to “live on the edge”.  It’s because they find no other viable options for them to get around: to medical apts., to shop, to be with friends.  And for seniors to not be connected with their community is to become isolated -- a fear worse than a car accident.  Understandably, the Wauwatosa Senior Commission Transportation Assessment’s top recommendation was to increase access to transportation services, including the option of public transit. 

Our Coalition for More Responsible Transportation has put together a draft conceptual transit option plan for a bus rapid transit system running parallel to the I-94 Corridor.  It could include infrastructure for traffic light control technology.  The projected cost would be between $120-180 million.  So to re-build the Corridor as is and to add a transit option would cost between $470-530 million.  A lot less than $850 million.  The dollars saved could better be used to repair local roads.

In Summary:

  1. Re-build the I-94 Corridor w/ safety improvements, but without adding lanes.
  2. Repair local roads. 
  3. Provide a transit option. 
  4. Save taxpayers’ money.         

Thank you.

Dianne Dagelen

 

 

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Wauwatosa Common Council passed the resolution unanimously Oct 6, 2015.

 

 

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