Saturday, July 14, 2007

Scott Walker Cluelessness Reaches Embarrassing New Height

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Scott Walker returned from a tour of cities with urban rail systems still opposed to a system for Milwaukee because the other cities have traffic congestion that is mitigated by the rail option.

Oh: so we don't have bad traffic congestion? So why was Walker such a big backer of spending $6.5 billion to upgrade and widen the region's freeways, including pushing new lanes through Milwaukee?

Wasn't the expansion to deal with our oh-so-horrendous traffic congestion?

1 comment:

Jim Bouman said...

Classic Walker nonsense.

He can only conceive of light rail or other rapid transit in terms of how it will enhance happy motoring.

I grew up in a city that opened a light rail system in 1953, when I was ten years old. I was instantly mobile, able to travel to all different parts of the city of Cleveland, including the suburbs which had seemed remote and unapproachable to a kid from the near west side (the equivalent of 35th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee).

I could be out at night during high school, certain that I could get home using a reliable transit system that ran a train every half hour until midnight.

And during the past three years, I have spent a total of about five months (in 2-week chunks) in Boston. The "T"--that mythic transit system from which "the man who never returned" rode the rails--was pure pleasure. I had to get all over town and was continually amazed at the interesting variety of people with whom I would share the T on those trips. Students--both high school and younger, professionals, professors reading student papers as they rode, families, people in work clothes, people headed downtown to entertainment and restaurants, people with enough to drink in them that they'd be killers on the highway, but were just sleepy people getting home legally and safely.
An amazing number had a book or newspaper they were reading. Many women carried their fashionable shoes and wore the kind that allowed them to walk eight or ten blocks to a stop/station. There was lots of conversation--not all in a familiar language.

Call me strange for not liking the isolation involved in driving in to Milwaukee alone in my car. I'd love to go there oftener, if I didn't have to put up with the isolation, the tension of dealing with lane-changing, tailgating, bird-flipping fellow happy motorists.

You have to experience fast rail, probably have to have experienced it from an early age to appreciate it most civilized aspects.

We'll have it, but not on reasonable terms. Once Peak Oil arrives and happy motoring becomes impossibly costly for most people, we'll build it. But we won't grow into it. Most will see it as a comedown, not a step up. We'll grind our teeth over all the money we threw away on mostly useless freeways as we pay again to get a system that will work.