'Cities are meant to be lived in, not just driven through': WisDOT hosting I-794 open-house meetings this week

NOW: ’Cities are meant to be lived in, not just driven through’: WisDOT hosting I-794 open-house meetings this week

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee County residents will get the chance to learn more about the future of I-794 this week with two, open-house style meetings hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

WisDOT is currently looking at ways to address deteriorating infrastructure in a way that improves safety and operations for vehicles, while also looking to enhance community connectivity and compatibility with local plans and development.

According to the DOT, the Lake Interchange carries 73,9000 vehicles daily east of the Milwaukee River and 42,5000 vehicles daily at the Hoan Bridge.

On Monday, the Milwaukee Common Council approved an ordinance approving Connecting MKE: Downtown Plan 2040 as a part of the City of Milwaukee's Overall Comprehensive Plan in the 3rd, 4th and 6th Aldermanic Districts.

The updated plan includes calls for looking into removing the stretch of I-794 that separates the Third Ward and Downtown Milwaukee and replacing it with "a traditional connected grid of comfortable multi-modal streets, public spaces, and high-density mixed-use development."

Alderman Jonathan Brostoff (District 3) sponsored the motion along with Alderman Robert Bauman (District 4). Brostoff says he's hopeful that the Common Council supporting a plan that calls for looking into the removal of the freeway will help convince the DOT that removal is the best option.

"These urban highways were built at a time where that was the priority, getting people in and out of the city as quickly as possible, but cities are meant to be lived in, not just driven through," Ald. Brostoff said. "We have a great opportunity to do something amazing for the city and to really bring some value in an area where it's sorely needed, so, hopefully the state will come through, but it's their (DOT) call."

WisDOT is currently exploring concepts that fall within three categories: replace-in-kind (one concept), freeway improvement (six concepts), and freeway removal (two concepts).

WisDOT says information provided at the meetings will also be posted on the study website for review and feedback here: https://www.794lakeinterchange.wisconsindot.gov/

The first meeting will be held Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Milwaukee Marriott Downtown. The second meeting will be held Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at St. Thomas More High School.

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