Saturday, April 5, 2008

More Government Support For Expanding I-94: Are You Surprised?

An added lane and a rebuilt I-94 freeway from Milwaukee to Illinois gets a predicable thumbs up in a government-paid environmental review.

$1.9 billion to shave up to ten minutes off some commutes - - a pricetag that has doubled since this 35-mile segment of regional freeway work was first proposed in 2003.

And it contains zero dollars for transit, while gasoline is now 50% more expensive than it was when the freeway study was approved - - a $6.5 billion gift of public funds to the road-builders launched by the regional planning commission and embraced by the state transportation department.

The report includes data acknowledging increases in traffic, yet predicts there will be cleaner air overall because newer vehicles will run more efficiently.

Yet the area already fails federal air quality standard's - - which are getting tougher.

With wetlands that highway planners say they will restore as a result of construction (note to us all: let's see the proof!), and the water polluted runoff they'll deal with, (let's check that, too), I'd wager that we'll end up with dirtier air and fouled land and waterways - - but a bit less traffic congestion.

And no transit components for residents in the region without cars, or the means to pay for what will be $5-$6 per-gallon gasoline when the eight-year project is completed in 2016.

By 2016, people in the region will be screaming for more transit, to which the response will be: those dollars were directed into highways back in the earlier part of the centruy, when the road-builders were kind.

The plan and its so-called "environmental review's" one-dimensionality and dismissal of concerns for air and water quality are short-sighted embarrassments.

But it's all so predictable because it validates what transportation policy-makers around here, like Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and State Rep Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), have promoted for years:

A 21st century waste of money - - dictated by the road-builders - - based on 1950's planning that ignores the environment but increases sprawl development.

It's our our state and county governments and regional planning commission at work - - pushing again for the Old Suburbanism rather than transit and city-supporting New Urbanisn.

1 comment:

Zach W. said...

While I support lessening the congestion on our roads and highways, simply building more lanes doesn't strike me as the most rational way to go about things. Instead of simply pouring more concrete for cars, I agree that we should be looking at how we can better incorporate mass transit into our highway system as a means of reducing congestion - as well as air pollution and gas consumption.