ACLU opposes Zoo Interchange dollars
Published: July 13, 2005
The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin joined critics of the Legislature’s
budget allocation of $38 million for preliminary engineering of the Zoo Interchange
The ACLU sent a letter to Gov. Jim Doyle Wednesday asking him to
the veto the item as the project wouldn’t begin for years.
state is running a deficit,” said ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris
Ahmuty. “It makes no sense to force DOT to do preliminary engineering now
when changes could well occur over the next decade, so they could end up having
to do it over again.”
The group also said the money would be better
spent on public transit, which would server Milwaukee County’s lower-income
“While the Legislature wants to pour almost $40 million
into more highway work, Milwaukee County’s public transit system is starved
for funds, raising fares, and cutting back services,” Ahmuty said. “As
numerous studies have shown, a high percentage of the area’s poor and minority
population don’t have cars or drivers licenses, and they don’t benefit
from more highway construction expenditures.”
The ACLU of Wisconsin’s
opposition comes on the heels of similar concerns raised by state Rep. Tamara
Grigsby, D-Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Grigsby late last
month called it “childish” to not delay spending on the study for a
project that, at its earliest, wouldn’t start until 2017.
days later, also urged legislators to eliminate planning funds for the Zoo Interchange
reconstruction in the proposed biennial budget. He said the Southeastern Wisconsin
Regional Planning Commission’s long-range plan needed more public input first.
Sen. Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield, who helped lead the effort to include the funding
in the biennial budget, and SEWRPC Deputy Director Ken Yunker have defended the
Zoo Interchange study.
Kanavas said the study is critical to create an infrastructure
that will support regional economic growth, and Yunker said the Zoo Interchange
project would not determine whether the freeway system is widened in Milwaukee
County, one of Barrett’s concerns.
The state budget, approved by both
the Senate and Assembly, is now in the hands of Doyle, who must approve it, veto
part of it or reject the entire spending measure by Aug. 18.