Menomonee Falls — A lawsuit spanning almost two years has drawn to a close. The result will be a new bus route — No. 279 — that brings Milwaukee residents to jobs in the Menomonee Falls industrial park.
The route, which will begin operation in August, is the first of several Milwaukee County bus routes that Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottleib said should facilitate more efficient transportation for those living in the central city to jobs in the suburbs.
"The settlement includes transit services that will alleviate traffic congestion during construction," Gottleib said in a news release. "The routes will support the department's Traffic Management Plan for the project, facilitating our commitment to minimize the impacts of construction on travelers, residents and businesses." A request for additional information was denied, but final signatures are pending on a settlement of a lawsuit related to the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee County.
The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope, who claimed the $1.7 billion Zoo Interchange reconstruction project inadequately provided for the needs of Milwaukee's transit-dependent residents.
Under the terms of the agreement, the state will:
· Spend up to $11.5 million over four years to provide bus routes aimed at easing traffic congestion. Details on the routes have not yet been developed, but they will focus on getting city residents to outer county locations and bringing workers into the city from outer county areas.
· Provide $2 million over four years for transit providers to offer additional services to enhance the use of transit to relieve congestion, such as real-time transit route information or public outreach to encourage ridership on the routes.
Though Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan said the four-year agreement is "better than nothing," he said he wished it would have spanned a much longer timeframe.
"If there has been damage to transportation needs of the minority community of Milwaukee County, why is it they only seek justice for four years?" Weishan questioned. "Four or five years from now we are going to be in the position to have discussion of a bus route that may need to be eliminated because we don't want to raise the tax levy. We would have been better off with a long-term agreement, but unfortunately we're in a position where we have to take what we can get."
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