— Mequon may get more interstate than
it wants as plans begin to solidify for the expansion of
The Mequon Common Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a
resolution that strongly opposes a new Federal Highway
Administration position that calls for a full interchange at
Mequon’s southernmost access point to I-43 at Port Washington
There is a partial interchange there now; it provides a
southbound onramp toward downtown Milwaukee and a corresponding
While there would be no local money involved, Mequon officials
say that the full exit isn’t necessary or wanted – and its
estimated $13 million price tag is a waste of tax dollars.
The state Department of Transportation, which is conducting the
I-43 expansion study, said in its Interchange Justification
Report that traffic counts did not justify a full interchange at
the exit, which is just north of the county line. Federal
highway officials disagreed.
Council member Andrew Nerbun, discussing the proposed resolution
in a public works committee meeting prior to the common
council meeting, called the decision “a total bait and
“They’re trying to jam way too much
infrastructure into too small of an area,” he said.
Nerbun and council member Pamela Fuhry-Adams
said the full interchange will significantly increase
traffic on adjacent city streets and change the character of
the surrounding neighborhoods.
Fuhry-Adams said that 60 or so people
attended a Nov. 13 community meeting called by the DOT. She
said there would have been many more people there if people
from an area wider than just a half mile from the proposed
project had been notified.
A half to three-quarters attending that
meeting said “they would rather have nothing than to have
this massive thing in the heart of their neighborhood,” she
As council members discussed the
proposed resolution in committee Tuesday, they decided it
needed to be worded even stronger. The approved version says
the city is “in total opposition of a full freeway
interchange” at North Port Washington Road. It also says the
city favors retaining the current partial interchange.
The resolution authorizes city staff to
advocate that position. In addition to discussing the issue
with state DOT and federal transportation officials, elected
officials including state Rep. Jim Ott, RMequon, and
Wisconsin’s congressional delegation may be contacted.
For decades, Mequon was part of the U.S.
House district of F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. Recent
redrawing of district boundary lines put the city in the
district of another longtime member of Congress, U.S. Rep.
Council member Mark Seider said the I-43
access now at Port Washington Road is “fully functional” and
doesn’t need to be upgraded.
Noting the $13 million price tag, he
called it “an exorbitant waste of our tax money – and it’s
being rammed down our throat.”
While the potential for a full I-43
interchange at Port Washington Road is a relatively new
development, city officials have been weighing the need for
adding a full interchange at Highland Road. If that exit is
built, the city would pay about half the cost.
Mayor Dan Abendroth added that he
thought the plans for a full interchange at Port Washington
Road are exorbitant.
“We didn’t even
ask for this,” he said.