Just this week, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) moved forward on a budget item that would approve funding for I-94’s expansion in Milwaukee. This is an unfortunate decision that would lead to a 3.5 mile, $1.1B expansion of the highway that is a fiscal, social, and environmental mistake.
It is the continuation of a decades long focus on highway investments which have worsened the region’s racial and economic segregation, undermining communities of color and the disability community.
It is a continuation of policy that has increased transportation carbon emissions at a time when we need to make critical investments to reduce emissions.
JFC’s decision to build this highway will not help us address Wisconsin’s crumbling local roads, but it will help some of the most privileged members of our society, suburban commuters, save a few minutes on their daily commute.
This is not the end of the struggle. The project still needs go through a new environmental documentation process with public meetings and it still needs to secure federal funds. We will continue to fight for more sustainable and equitable alternatives to expansion.
Sadly, I-94’s enumeration is not the only folly made by the JFC this week.
The committee also voted to reduce transit funding in Madison and Milwaukee by 50% over the next two years.
While they argue that the difference can be recovered in federal funds, that is not guaranteed. These deep transit cuts will have long-term consequences for our transit systems in Madison and Milwaukee. Riders already struggling with service cuts will now see many routes disappear, dramatically reducing their ability to access employment, healthcare and basic goods.
We urge the JFC to reconsider and for the Governor to veto this egregious attack on transit riders.
1000 Friends and our friends at CMRT are committed to fixing local roads and supporting our struggling transit systems instead of funding an unnecessary billion dollar highway expansion.
Read our press release on the topic and keep an eye out for updates as our work continues!