Statement: Rethink 794 Campaign Hosts Webinar, Revealing New Renderings
Webinar on October 19 shows new boulevard concept for I-794 in Milwaukee and makes the argument for reimagining the corridor
Grassroots activists have been pushing for an at-grade boulevard study for the I-794 corridor. After many meetings and conversations with Milwaukee residents and elected officials, the Rethink 794 is hosting a webinar on October 19th at Noon to reveal renderings made by local designers who have volunteered to work on this project. Rethink 794 is advocating for reconnecting Downtown to the Third Ward, opening $1.5B in land for potential development, creating better walking and biking connections, and strengthening the City’s tax-base. The event is open to the public, but free registration is required at tinyurl.com/4fj4y8e7. Learn more at the project website: rethink794.com. Renderings can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1vuVq9PKeXLZykV5g1zu5wV6SaUIRJ_S6?usp=sharing
Organizers and participants in the webinar issued the following statements:
“There is so much opportunity around reimaging I-794 in Milwaukee,” said Gregg May, Transportation Policy Director at 1000 Friends of Wisconsin. “This underutilized highway sits on 32.5 acres of Wisconsin’s most valuable real estate. With the Mayor recently setting a goal to reach one million Milwaukeeans, we are urging elected officials and city staff to study I-794 as an at-grade boulevard. This project would reconnect two key neighborhoods, open new areas for development, and strengthen the city’s tax-base. Reimagining 794 has so much potential which would help the Mayor reach his goal.”
“Sixty years ago, the elevated highway through downtown Milwaukee erased the historic character of the city in the name of progress because it was, at that time, the best intended use of that urban space,” said Xu Zhang, Landscape Architect & Urban Designer at Dover, Kohl & Partners. “Now, in this new millennium, is an elevated urban highway the best we can imagine for this prime area? Across the country, efforts to transform interstate highways that have outlived their intended use into walkable neighborhoods have gained momentum and support. Rebuilding I-794 as an at-grade boulevard could reconnect downtown neighborhoods, restore a sense of place, and offer new development opportunities. Infrastructure projects, such as interstate freeways, may outlast one’s lifetime; we must consider what legacy we want to leave for the next generations.”
“The East-West stretch of I-794 has divided the urban fabric of Milwaukee’s downtown and Third Ward district for decades, said Taylor Korslin, Milwaukee Architect. “Now we have the opportunity to decide that this key space within the city should be put to better use for the next 50 years. We set out to provide a bold vision for what these 32.5 acres could become if the raised interstate was replaced with a boulevard along Clybourn Street. For nearly one third the cost to reconstruct this stretch of freeway, it could be removed and replaced with a boulevard, opening up nearly 30 acres of value.” These are places people want to be, to live and work. We know what the future holds if we simply reconstruct this portion of freeway, the unknown however, is the potential for what it could become if replaced with a boulevard.”
Rethink 794 is composed of local advocates, volunteer professionals, and environmental and transportation advocacy groups. Rethink 794 is calling for a more responsible, cost-effective approach to the I-794 corridor, which is about to receive $300M in repairs from WisDOT. The campaign is focused on having the City of Milwaukee commit to a boulevard study in their Downtown Plan Update. The project team is reimagining I-794 in downtown Milwaukee as an at-grade boulevard that reconnects Downtown and The Third Ward.