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Walker’s budget pulls funding from I-94 East-West project

February 11, 2017

WISN – A new battle might be brewing over a road construction project in Milwaukee.

Gov. Scott Walker’s new budget pulls the funding to rebuild Interstate 94 between the Zoo Interchange and downtown.

Plans to widen the east-west freeway and ease congestion have run against road blocks for years. Area residents fought against a variety of plans, including a double-deck freeway.

The opposition is why Walker said it makes sense to move funds away from the project to others.

“We wanted to make sure that we didn’t end up putting money into an area where it didn’t get caught up in, not just the debate, but potentially even in court,” Walker said.

But some of the people who live in the area say it’s a mistake to stop the project entirely.

“Can it wait for a solution?” WISN 12 News reporter Kent Wainscott asked.

“I don’t think it can. Something needs to be done. Something needs to be done soon,” Story Hill neighborhood resident Gil Gonzales said.

The former state transportation secretary told “UPFRONT’s” Mike Gousha in 2014 that that freeway couldn’t wait for a fix.

“We have significant congestion and delay issues now and those delays cost our economy money,” Mark Gottlieb said.

Because the freeway links to the state’s largest city, some of its top tourist attractions and biggest employers, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce said the state can’t afford to wait.

“If we delay this, it’s going to cost money. It’s going to cost our economy. And it’s going to make fixing it in the long (term) more expensive,” Steve Baas, MMAC senior vice president of governmental affairs, said.

The DOT did not respond to WISN 12 News’ request for comment Friday.