District 3 Blog
Updates on Neighborhood Odor and I-94
Slightly odorous news, plus transportation infrastructure happenings to share with you tonight
Seriously, what is that smell
Many of us, all over the district have noticed the aroma of the landfill (which is way south of even the furthest south parts of District 3) which has pleasantly drifted north to remind of us of just how much we throw away each day. It is a powerfully rank smell and if you haven't experienced it on your street, you're lucky. Alder DeMarb, whose district is to the south of ours and abuts the landfill, has been working with the county, who owns the landfill, to get a handle on this. From up in District 3 we sincerely thank her.
Study of Interstate Options
As many of you may know from discussions in years past, it is possible to fit an on ramp, off ramp, or both on I-94 at Milwaukee Street. Note that this would extend Milwaukee Street east from where it currently ends north through the northernmost portion of the Door Creek area to meet I-94. This would not be an interchange at Sprecher Road. I included an image of the map below:
There are so many things to consider with something like this that I've created a handy list below but before we get into that I want to be really super clear where we are in the process of a potential addition of on/off ramps. Right now, the city is getting funding together for a traffic study to determine feasibility and need for a partial or full interchange. There are miles to go, no pun intended, before anything is decided or moved on. To read more about the resolution which is up right now, click here.
Now for the pros, cons, and important factors:
Interstates are Federal - Cities don't get to just build additions to interstates. Imagine the pandemonium that would cause. The US Dept of Transportation recently halted a study on handling the traffic volume on 39/90/94 between US Hwy 12/18 and the interstate split up near Portage. Without federal guidance on how all the interstate pieces currently work together, the city will have to be extra careful and conscientious as it moves through this studying and considering our options with regard to this potential on/off ramp.
Federal Rules on Distance - One bit of federal guidance we already have is that USDOT does not support interstate exits closer than a little over 2 miles apart. The exception to this rule of thumb is in urban areas, where exits can be much closer together. An exit at Milwaukee Street would be 1.6 miles from the next interchange, where 1-94 joins I-90. Which 'distance rule' applies? Well that leads to the next point--
Growing Madison - We have a good deal of undeveloped commercial and residential -zoned land in District 3, around and north of I-94. To grow our great city and create jobs we can develop these areas. Companies/employers who are considering these commercial-zoned spaces are not impressed by the lack of interstate access. So if we want to grow our part of our city, an interchange would help a great deal.
Safety and Traffic - I have heard from a few people that they are concerned about how much traffic this would bring through our neighborhood. The official figure is: A LOT. I live just down from Milwaukee street on Littlemore Drive, and when either my partner or I go running, we go right where Milwaukee Street would run. For right now we rent, but my dream house down the street is right in this neighborhood as well. I definitely hear those who are voicing traffic concerns.
I also know that we must weigh what is best for the entire east side and entire city along with what we personally might like best. So if the city study finds that this on ramp would be the best thing since sliced bread, I will certainly hear that too.
Wetlands - There is a little corner of wetland area which would be impacted by building ramps south of I-94 and/or building a full interchange. Currently, development through wetlands is allowed as long as the wetlands which are destroyed in one area are replaced in another. I don't like that rule, to me it doesn't work. Ask Houston about trying to convert, divert, move around, and otherwise mess with wetlands. While I don't believe building a ramp through an acre of wetlands would cause the whole east side to flood, I do believe playing fast and loose with wetlands is never a good idea. For more info on potentially impacted wetlands you can look at figures 5.6 and 5.7 in the resolution and corresponsing materials.
Either/Or - You've read me using terms like 'partial or full interchange' and 'on/off ramp.' It is possible that an on ramp may be feasible but an off ramp would not be, or vice versa. As you saw above, there are traffic, safety, economic, and environmental factors to consider and having one or the other may work better taking the long view.
Public Input - Last year I was hosting a neighborhood meeting about the steamfitters training hall going in just south of the interstate and I took a quick poll of how neighbors felt about a potential interchange. Attendees were neighbors from the same neighborhood which would be most impacted by the potential interchange. Interestingly, building an interchange held the vast majority of support from meeting attendees.
Naturally, a quick poll isn't the only public input we'll be hearing on this. Assuming the study goes forth, its results will help determine the city's stance on feasibility of an on or off ramp. If the city wants to pursue this, we'll host public meetings to get neighborhood input. District 3 knows that public input can make or break projects, so I hope that if we get to that point, you will all join me in discussing this possibility.
So, to recap, the city is undertaking to perform a study for the feasibility of an off/ramp at I-94 and an extended Milwaukee Street. This will be a process. We're not sure how the study will turn out; the matter may end there, the idea for the interchange may be pushed back several more years, or the process of gathering public input may begin if the city wants to go forward. No matter how those parts of the process shake out I'll be right here hosting public meetings, listening to engineering and planning lectures, hearing from east siders, and weighing all the best options for District 3.
Thanks as always for being thoughtful neighbors!
Enjoy your evening,
Alder, District 3
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