Work continues to get I-794/Lake Parkway extended through Oak Creek, but getting money for the project figures to be a challenge.
That's where the public could come in and help persuade the state Department of Transportation the project is worth it, County Supervisor Pat Jursik said at an economic development forum Thursday.
Jursik led a committee that studied and recommended an extension of the Lake Parkway to Highway 100 in Oak Creek.
Public comments taken earlier this year showed residents supported the extension by more than a 2-to-1 margin. The extension also has support from the Milwaukee County Board and Oak Creek Common Council.
"That corridor is extremely important in the South Shore communities," Jursik said. "That is the corridor that moves folks through our communities."
But the project has an estimated price tag of $207 million — a major hurdle and concern of the DOT.
"The largest concern (the DOT) is going to have is with regard to finding the funding to do it," Jursik said.
"I believe it's going to be public input, public pressure, that will eventually get 794 built."
Before plans get to the DOT, a technical subcommitee and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission will review the proposal. An air quality analysis is also being completed, Jursik said.
Supporters say an extension would help spark economic development, relieve congestion on local streets and make it easier for residents on the South Shore to get downtown. The proposed road generally follows the same footprint as the Union Pacific Railroad, which means business and homes would be largely unaffected.
Besides the cost, noise, water runoff and the configuration of the interchanges have been some of the concerns raised.
Under preliminary plans, interchanges would be installed at Rawson, Drexel and Puetz, with an overpass at Forest Hill Avenue at an at-grade intersection at Highway 100.