Over the next several years, there may be no more important issue in Wisconsin than the rebuilding of the Marquette Interchange
No one disputes the economic importance of the Milwaukee freeways. They are the arteries and veins not only for Southeastern Wisconsin’s economy but also for the economy of the entire state. The system provides the major truck and tourism routes to northern, central and eastern Wisconsin. Nearly 60 percent of all goods shipped by high- way in Wisconsin use the Milwaukee freeway system. In addition, the motoring public uses the freeways to get to and from work and elsewhere. The Marquette Interchange is virtually the heart of this system, carrying more than 300,000 vehicles each weekday. More than 60 percent of the state’s residents live in the eastern counties and rely on the Marquette to travel south and east. The fact that the Marquette is reaching the end of its service life and must be completely reconstructed presents a special challenge.
Owing to a state fiscal crisis, traditional funding sources may no longer be available, leaving the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) without the ability to pay for the reconstruction of the Marquette on time and with a design that the community supports. Funding options that involve higher taxes and/or increased borrowing by the state are impractical and politically unacceptable.
Many businesspeople are already nervous about the four-to-six-year disruption projected for Downtown Milwaukee as a result of the planned reconstruction. A protracted process or delays brought about by funding problems could have a devastating impact on Downtown, causing some businesses and organizations to flee. The City of Milwaukee and the Downtown in particular have a high-stakes interest in the Marquette getting done right and on time.
In order to protect the Milwaukee community, the Southeastern region, and the entire State of Wisconsin against failure on this project, we are submitting a serious alternative plan for financing the completion of the Marquette within the original construction schedule — without raising taxes.