Milwaukee NotesSTONE BROKERS DEAL FOR DREXEL AVENUE INTERCHANGE
If and when the green sign is erected along Interstate 94 to alert motorists about an exit ramp to Drexel Avenue in Oak Creek, it won’t have State Rep. Jeff Stone’s name on it.
However, the exit would have no chance of happening were it not for the conciliatory statesmanship of the Greendale Republican legislator.
The notion of a Drexel interchange had been floated about for years, but the idea reached a stalemate last year.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s rules required a local match of funds for a new interchange.
The site of the Drexel freeway interchange lies in Oak Creek, about 10 blocks east of the Franklin border.
The City Oak Creek was willing to contribute matching funds for the cause, but its council insisted that Franklin, which also would benefit by having the freeway exit funnel traffic to the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. south campus, should also contribute to cover half of the local match.
Franklin officials balked at that idea. After all, how could Franklin taxpayer dollars be used to subsidize a project that would lie beyond the city’s borders?
Enter Stone. The veteran legislator, who has become the de facto expert on transportation issues in the Assembly, is brokering an agreement in which the DOT would agree to bend its rules to allow Franklin’s investments on the South 27th Street corridor to count, in effect, as its matching share for the freeway project. After all, Stone told the DOT, if traffic is ever diverted off of Interstate 94 because of an accident, 27th Street would become a main detour route.
A key piece of the Drexel Avenue puzzle came when Northwestern Mutual agreed to pony up the remaining costs. After all, the company would have a dedicated freeway exit to its Franklin campus. The “Quiet Company” also has acquired several parcels of land surrounding the campus, and a freeway exit at Drexel Avenue would add commercial value to those properties.
Franklin officials are awaiting final word from Stone and DOT on the language of the agreement.
Going forward, the interchange also would be useful for Oak Creek as it seeks new uses for the vacant Delphi property at Drexel and Howell Avenue.
--Compiled by WisPolitics Staff
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