New interchange for I-94 in the Master Plan

Buried in the comments is news that the city wants to buy this land. The purchase will move the plans for an I-94 Interchange at Calhoun Road further towards reality. (By the way, the Mayor has twice campaigned that he wasn’t for an interchange. His actions have been consistently opposite, though.) Here’s the land outlined in blue:


The land to the west (left) is a park, the land to the north (top) on the other side of I-94 is also a park, the fourth piece in the NW area is owned by VK and about to come in with a plan for development.

In November of 2000 the Calhoun Road Task Force commented according to their minutes:

F. Brookfield Road / Calhoun Road Split Diamond Interchange: Total Costs would be $63.0 million with a $31.3 million cost share. Nine buildings in the City and Town would have to be relocated. This alternative is the most expensive as there is a need for duel access roads North and South of the Interstate.

Alderman Jakus asked if Calhoun Road would have to go to eight lanes. Mr. Spense stated the traffic generated by Ruby farms and WTMJ properties would increase traffic to 40,000 cars per day that would suggest eight lanes according to the “Urban Streets Roadway Characteristics” chart. Alderman Steinke asked if SEWRPC’s suggestions were based on Office and Limited Industry zoning. The answer was yes.

Commissioner Faber questioned if better synchronization of the traffic lights on Bluemound Road would improve traffic flow. The answer was yes, however, more improvement could be accomplished by limiting access. A question was asked as to why the model for Bluemound Road used 8 lanes rather than the 6 lanes in use. Mr. Spense stated they preferred to use the optimum number for the lanes on Bluemound. If traffic deteriorates to a level of service “E” or “F”, traffic will use other routes.

Alderman Heinrich stated traffic is currently at a level of service “D”, before any interchange, will it stay a level “D”. Alderman Heinrich stated it seems as if the traffic is just being reshuffled. Mr. Spense stated level of service will degrade no matter what due to an increase in traffic. The level of service on Bluemound Road drops due to the 6 lanes rather than having 8 lanes. Mayor Bloomberg stated an interchange will move traffic from Bluemound Road to the interstate. The DOT is charged with protecting the capacity of the interstate.

There are a number of questions that need to be answered. How much congestion are people willing to live with. Need to look at the existing volume on Bluemound Road and determine how it will increase in the future. Are there other alternatives such as alternative roadways for local traffic on Bluemound.

Alderman Jakus asked if the figures from SEWRPC included buildout in New Berlin. Mr. Spense indicated they did anticipate buildout in the western area of New Berlin of either commercial or residential.

Roger Cupps indicated the changes at the existing intersections were relatively minor. The Mayor expressed concern with the functionality of the Moorland Road interchange. Mr. Cupps indicated changes to the ramps would not improve traffic as it is the capacity on the freeway that is the problem. Some suggestions have been made and a study of the entire system is underway.

Alderman Berg questioned the impact on traffic north of Bluemound under the various alternatives. Mr. Spence stated there is no impact of any consequence. Andrew Dicks stated the increase in traffic volume would be from 18,000 to 21,000 cars. Current volume on the interstate is from 115,000 to 120,000 cars daily. The interstate needs to increase from 6 to 8 lanes. It is important
to keep through traffic on the interstate and off of city streets. Roger Cupps stated the SEWRPC study would be completed in nine months. Consensus will have to be built in the region which may indicate moving to 8 lanes.

Then the Council made this decision in July of 2001:

The next item was the Plan Commission’s actions and recommendations as represented in the Regular Plan Commission minutes of July 9, 2001, including the Plan Review Board minutes of June 21, 2001.

The first item was the “Calhoun Road South Neighborhood Plan” as recommended by the Calhoun Road South Neighborhood Task Force and Board of Public Works. Preliminary discussion of implementation measures – possible authorization of public hearing(s).

The Plan Commission recommended to accept the staff’s recommendation to adopt the Calhoun Road South Neighborhood Plan by resolution as drafted and to authorize the public hearings on rezonings, official mapping and modifications to the zoning code for the Calhoun Road South Neighborhood Plan.

Alderman Schulz moved to adopt the recommendation of the Plan Commission. The motion was seconded by Alderman Jakus.

Alderman Heinrich moved to remove any reference to an interchange being built in the Plan. The motion was seconded by Alderman Waffenschmidt. The motion was defeated Ayes 3, No’s 11 with Alderman Heinrich, Waffenschmidt and Clappier voting Aye.

Alderman Schellinger moved to amend page 55 of the Plan by changing the language in the second paragraph in the right hand column to: “While this Plan recommends a split-diamond interchange, it can also incorporate other interchange and transportation improvements if more detailed …..” Alderman Schellinger accepted as a friendly amendment the following from Alderman Clappier, first to amended the paragraph by adding the following sentence. “It is not the intent of this plan that both an interchange and an east/west connector street grid between Moorland Road and Calhoun Road be built.” Also her amendment further included that the goals section on page 24 carry language regarding the preservation and enhancement of the neighborhoods. And Finally, that the plan carry the changes in the memo from Paris Rutherford dated July 17, 2001, “Proposed CRS Plan Document Revisions”. The motion was seconded by Alderman Ponto and carried Ayes 12, No’s 2 with Alderman Heinrich and Alderman Schulz voting “no”.

The motion as amended to approve the Calhoun Road South Plan carried unanimously.

The Calhoun Road Neighborhood and Transportation plan is a document incorporated into the 2020 Master Plan.

Finally, the plan is for a split diamond interchange. A diamond interchange looks like a diamond when viewed from above. This “split” version uses two roads, Calhoun and Brookfield, to accomplish the task. One road would handle the on and off eastbound, the other westbound.

There has been behind the scenes talk for years to move the interchange to a regular diamond, especially since it’s so hard to get the Town of Brookfield to play into any planning. It might be different now that the town is doing their own redevelopment. (West Point parcel after Marcus left.)

This link will take you to the interchange options originally studied in the Calhoun plan. The split diamond is the fourth presented. I do think the goal now is to build the first option. It will mean amending the Master Plan, but that’s never stopped City Hall. Also, there’s a new plan, the 2035, that’s about to be underway.

For full disclosure, I’ve never liked the idea of another interchange into Brookfield. I still hold firm to my belief that “if you build it, they will come.” City Engineer Jeff Chase once labeled me naive for the thought, but what the heck. I’ve been called everything else, naive sounds pretty nice for a change.


  1. Dave Frank says:

    Thanks Cindy. Interesting stuff.

  2. Kim Sweet says:

    It’s hard not to get depressed. I live on Calhoun Road and am living through the road widening project. I also live next to this parcel of land that will be bought by the city for the I-94 interchange. The city told me over and over that the widening of Calhoun was “interchange neutral”. What a joke. I knew it was all the time. If you build it (widen Calhoun), they (the interchange) will come.

    The city developers also argued with me regarding my property values. They said the new road would increase my property value and I stressed it would greatly reduce my property value. Now I get a new city assessment in the mail yesterday and they have reduced my property value $10,000 from 2007 to 2008.

    After the roadwork is done, I wonder if it’s going to go down some more? And if I’m lucky enough to get a freeway entrance right next to me? Down some more? I just lost all the equity I have in my home with the City’s so called improvements.

    I also had two real estate agents over to discuss this issue and they said I would have to reduce my home almost 20% just to get people in the door to look at it with a busy boulevard in my front yard. That doesn’t take into account the freeway interchange either… I’m sure I’ll loose another 10-20%. Who will want to buy my house on an urban boulevard with a freeway entrance right next to it? Not many people… I’ll almost have to give it away.

    I’m still seriously considering litigation against the city for my loss of property value. After receiving the new assessment yesterday, it makes it more feasible. However, a lawyer that I talked to said that the City doesn’t have to pay damages for “affecting” someone’s property by putting something next to that property that the property owner doesn’t like. It would be a tough battle to win, but it’s the principle of the matter.

    Can anyone refer me to a good lawyer that would want to fight this good fight?

  3. I feel for you. The city is going to “improve” my property and “increase” the value of my home too with a 5 figure water assessment. If it wasn’t for all of this “help” from government maybe families could survive or even prosper.