I-94 East-West Expansion Approved in Legislature-Passed Budget

The Wisconsin Legislature green lights the expansion of the long-stalled I-94 East-West corridor. Former Gov. Scott Walker stopped it, then in 2020, Gov. Tony Evers revived it. But state law says the Wisconsin Department of Transportation needs legislative approval to spend money on the project. That could come if the governor signs the budget the legislature passed.

The proposed I-94 East-West expansion will add lanes from the Marquette to Zoo Interchanges, a roughly 3.5 mile stretch of the interstate, which Gov. Evers says is one of the most congested and dangerous roads in the state. WISDOT adds that the stretch has twice as many crashes as the average of similar roads in the state.

The governor’s budget proposal asked for $40 million in bonding for the expansion project, which the legislature kept in the budget they approved this week and will send back to him for his signature.

If the governor approves this item in the budget, don’t expect construction any time soon. That’s because the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has ordered a supplemental environmental impact study. It’s goal is to hear from the public, study issues like water runoff, and to see if the pandemic may have changed traffic patterns along this route. Wisconsin Secretary-designee of Transportation Craig Thompson says the earliest they could get final federal approval is late 2022.