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Governor Helps Kick Off Drexel Interchange Construction

Interchange is expected to be completed later this year and create jobs, grow economy.

State Rep. Mark Honadel was a child when Interstate 94 went in, right behind his family's apple orchards.

"When I was a little kid I rode my bike on that freeway," he said. "It was the biggest road I've ever seen in my life."

Decades later, he would represent the area in the state Assembly and get involved in the years of political battles that it took to get to Friday morning's Drexel Interchange groundbreaking.

It was a journey that was often bumpy, but worth it with the economic development that's expected, he said.

"This is momentus," Honadel said. "This is the first new interchange on I-94 in my lifetime in southeast Wisconsin. This interchange is going to be an economic gold mine for the city of Oak Creek."

Gov. Scott Walker, Honadel and others formally broke ground on the new interchange in a chilly ceremony Friday morning outside St. Mary Coptic Church.

State and local officials said the project was vital to creating more jobs in the Oak Creek area and helping grow the economy. The groundbreaking took place about six years after discussions regarding the interchange started.

Walker said the southeastern Wisconsin region is a key part of the state's economy and the interchange was an example of good collaboration between public and private entities. The cities of Franklin and Oak Creek, the state and federal government, Northwestern Mutual and others were all involved in bringing the interchange to fruition.

Mentioning his time as Milwaukee County Executive, Walker said the interchange was the "missing link" when nearby development like the Northwestern Mutual campus was put in place.

"This is incredibly important," Walker said.

"It's important for the state as a whole, because the long-term investment, whether it's at the old Delphi plant or the 27th Street corridor ... having good transportation is a key part of it," he told reporters afterward. "That's why after years of raiding the fund in the past, we restored the money into the transportation fund, put a cap on those raids, and made the kinds of investments that we're able to make here today."

Construction will start later this month and is expected to finish by the end of the year. It's the first new interchange in Milwaukee County since the expressway was built in the 1970s. 

Also at the event, officials unveiled an updated plan for the Delphi redevelopment project, now called Drexel Town Square, and announced that a $1.15 million grant will pay for the concrete removal at the site, 7929 S. Howell Ave.

Joe Todor May 04, 2012 at 08:15 PM
INVITE ONLY ! What a bunch of crop. I was refused access to Drexel Ave by Oak Creek Police Dept. Was this an Oak Creek Planning Commission event, OR a Scott Walker political event ? signed, Milwaukee County tax payer, Oak Creek resident unemployed former Delphi employee
Dorothy May 04, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Don't you worry Mr. Unemployed Delphi Employee!! SCOTT WALKER IS DOING HIS JOB HERE IN THIS STATE THAT MR. TOM BARRETT(MAYOR) IS NOT DOING!! He has done NOTHING in his 8 years. Dorothy
Mark Schaaf May 04, 2012 at 09:09 PM
If we could not turn this into a Walker/political thing....I would appreciate it. Feel free to voice those thoughts on any number of election stories we have. Thanks.
4 Greenfield May 04, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Mark Schaaf- You were there. Was there limited access to his event for the groundbreaking ceremony? If so, do you know why? If it was, I have to say I have never heard of the public not being invited to such an event before. By your photos it sure seems like not many "real" people were in attendance.
4 Greenfield May 04, 2012 at 09:32 PM
I don't care who gets credit, but I think it is wonderful that there will be more access points to Oak Creek, Franklin and South Milwaukee. As a frequent visitor to Oak Creek, this will be much more convenient. Greenfield already has many access points to 894 which we really appreciate as Greenfield homeowners. Congratulations to Oak Creek, Franklin and Northwestern Mutual for getting it right!
Mark Schaaf May 04, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Yeah, access was limited to mostly just media, public officials, some construction workers. I didn't know that would be the case and the info I got beforehand never said it was restricted, which was why my story from yesterday gave the impression it would be open. Wasn't trying to mislead anyone (I myself had a little bit of a tough time getting in there). Not sure what their reasoning was - maybe it had something to do with Drexel Avenue being closed, or maybe they were trying to keep out protester-type activities. I'm not sure, and didn't get a chance to ask. I don't know that I've ever seen this type of an event restricted.
Mike in OC May 04, 2012 at 09:40 PM
@greenfield homeowner .... i went to the event today and also was denied access by the ocpd. they claimed the event was by invitation only. total bs in my opinion.
Mike in OC May 04, 2012 at 09:46 PM
@markschaaf ... any updates on the delphi site project? the cool thing about both these projects is the drexel interchange directly will impact the delphi project by giving ease of access to and from I94...
Mark Schaaf May 04, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Yeah, definitely. I'll post some more on that tomorrow (running out of time today) but they have an updated rendering and some more details. The town center concept is still the same.
Jeff Warg May 04, 2012 at 11:08 PM
This will help Oak Creek, how about funding the 794 extension south as well?
jack ryan May 05, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Mark, is it customary for these events to be invite only or is this the first. That seems to be a more timely story than an interchange being opened next year.
Be Logical May 05, 2012 at 01:01 AM
The groundbreaking ceremony was hosted by the DOT and held on private property, which is probably why it was closed to the public. Additionally, Drexel Ave is under construction and thru traffic is prohibited.
TBone May 05, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Wow, this is completely not political. I'm sure there is always Caterpillar construction equipment parked in the church parking lot. Good luck with that cracked asphalt from the roller. By the way, isn't the off ramp going to go right through the church property?
Joe Todor May 05, 2012 at 01:33 AM
> "groundbreaking ceremony was hosted by the DOT" ... on the taxpayer's dime ?
Bren May 05, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Whither Scott Walker goeth, so too doth his baggage, hundreds, thousands, tens, nay a hundred thousand protesters, berating his churlish treatment of children, the poor, the elderly, and those who doth toil for a living. Hard to get good promotional video when the air is filled with the shouts of "Recall Scott Walker!" and the line of vision is filled with protest signs. No surprise that his PR team controlled attendance. However, that's not what democracy looks like.
Mike in OC May 05, 2012 at 03:04 AM
@Be Logical ... the OCPD were stopping people at 13th and Drexel and questioning everyone.... they allowed the "invitees" to continue driving West on Drexel. I wasnt allow to attend the event and wasnt to pass through. There were 3 OCPD officers there at the roadblock.... fyi
Mike in OC May 05, 2012 at 03:11 AM
@Bren there was a massive mob of two recall walker people standing on the corner of 13th and Drexel when I left.... so there couldnt have been much of anything. I actually went there to see the info on the Delphi project and didn't expect any of your brothers there.... I never saw any in Oak Creek during the whole signature gathering process. I always figured they were too cowardly to even try in OC.
Bren May 05, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Mike, just because you didn't see signature collectors doesn't mean they weren't there. I know several people who didn't sign petitions because they couldn't find a signature collector. But don't worry, they do intend to vote next month! ; )

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