Environmental Justice Groups Object to WisDOT’s Discriminatory Failure to Include Transit in Zoo Interchange Plans

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The ACLU of Wisconsin joined other environmental justice groups like the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin and Midwest Environmental Advocates in opposing the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s plan to continue to expand highway access via the Zoo Interchange while cutting transit spending. As recipients of federal funding, the state cannot have programs that have a discriminatory effect. The WisDOT’s transportation funding and policy decisions are leading toward more roads for car owners and fewer transportation options for people who depend on public transportation. 

“WisDOT, and the state of Wisconsin, get federal money, so they must follow Title VI of the Civil Rights Act,” noted ACLU-WI Senior Staff Attorney Karyn Rotker. “And that federal law means they can’t run their transportation program in ways that have the effect of discriminating against people of color, regardless of whether they are intentionally discriminating. And the state’s transportation funding and policy decisions are clearly having a discriminatory effect.”

“In our region, people of color - especially African-Americans and Latinos - are much more likely to depend on transit than non-minorities. Allowing highway projects to move forward while transit moves backwards reduces their opportunities and segregates them even more from jobs, medical care, and other needs,” added Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin President/CEO, Dr. Patricia McManus.

“WisDOT needs to go back to the drawing board,” said Dennis Grzezinski, Midwest Environmental Advocates’ senior counsel. “They need to come up with a multi-modal plan that integrates transit as well as highways, to ensure that all residents of our region receive a fair share of the benefits of state transportation system investments.”

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