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SEWRPC Advisory Committee Says Pave Everything, Raise Taxes

by Gretchen Schuldt

Ignoring the wishes of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Natural Resources, the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County supervisors, County Executive Scott Walker and other exurbanites on Wednesday endorsed the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission’s (SEWRPC’s) full 127-mile freeway widening plan. Even the Teamsters favored a more modest plan. The vote by the committee, which included a Dane County representative of the roadbuilding industry, was expected. The only surprise was that so many members — nine — voted against widening I-94 and I-43 in Milwaukee. The key vote was 14-10. North Shore residents also lost, as the committee ignored their wishes as well, and voted to expand I-43 north of Milwaukee from four lanes to eight. Residents there sought to limit widening to six lanes at most. Besides Walker, those voting in favor of preliminary engineering for full expansion included Tim Sheehy of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and Milwaukee County Supervisor James White. Advisory Committee Chairman William “Cost is Not Relevant” Drew also voted with the majority. Milwaukee Mayor John O. Norquist supported a 108-mile widening plan, as did the DOT, the DNR, and the Teamsters. The plan would have spared Milwaukee from freeway widening and would have mitigated the damage to North Shore suburbs on I-43 by limiting widening to six lanes. The recommendation now moves on to another SEWRPC committee before it is forwarded to the full commission SEWRPC Offers One More Chance for Residents to Speak: SEWRPC’s final two votes on its freeway expansion plan are scheduled for May 1 and May 21. After that, the plan — in whichever shape it emerges — moves on to the Department of Transportation. The scheduled meetings and relevant agenda items are: SEWRPC Planning and Research Committee 1:30 p.m. May 1 Zoofari Conference Center 9715 W. Blue Mound Road Milwaukee, Wisconsin • Staff briefing on those portions of SEWRPC freeway study not previously reviewed, including final recommendations of Advisory Committee. • Public comment on Advisory Committee recommendations. Both comment in favor of and opposed to Advisory Committee recommendations will be allowed. Each side will be limited to 20 minutes. • Actions by Committee Special SEWRPC meeting (full Commission) 2 p.m. May 21 State Fair ParkWisconsin Exposition Center Conference Rooms 1 & 2 8200 W. Greenfield Avenue West Allis, WI • Consideration of freeway study For detailed coverage of the freeway expansion debate, check out www.storyhill.net/shnaHoodHappenings.htm. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 5 – May 2003
by Gretchen Schuldt