Wednesday, May 21, 2008

20 Homes, Other Businesses, Could Fall to Zoo Interchange "Improvements"

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation, continuing to roll over Milwaukee officials, deny the reality of high gas prices and dismiss fiscal sanity, is embarking on the next unfunded phase of the region's $6.5 billion freeway rebuilding and expansion spending spree.

With our/your money.

The next segment that is being planned - - just as the $1.9 billion segment from Milwaukee to Illinois gets underway through 2106 - - is the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange so motorists can zip through it a few seconds faster at rush hours.

At a cost of hundreds of millions of un-budgeted dollars, and now, according to state planners, at least 20 homes and some businesses that have been standing too long in progress's path.

Homes? Businesses? Tax base?

Ah - - who needs those trifles?

Not the Milwaukee area, especially in a recession. Just let those contracts and get some more concrete in the ground.

Step one? The ritualized informational public meeting-and-later-hearing process, and it's about to begin.

You know - - that dog-and-pony show at which planners and engineers from WisDOT, or perhaps from the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission - - the agency that spawned this entire regional highway plan with a $1 million DOT contract a few years ago - - are decked out in their Sunday best to stand at attention by glossy displays with leaflets to hand out, uncomfortably reminiscent of the judging session at the High School Science Fair.

But in this case, instead of winning a ribbon for nice charts and culture-filled petri dishes, the goal at the displays is to numb inquiring minds with jargon, data, and other palliative assurances about the project's design, need, and overall wisdom.

I'll reprint the public session schedule at the bottom (thanks to Tom Held for including it in his Journal Sentinel story), so you'll know where to go should you choose to torture yourself by attending, but trust me - - leave behind the expectation that, armed with new official information and materials gathered independently, you'll be able to submit comments or testimony that will actually reduce or alter this grandest of grand Wisconsin road-building schemes - - the biggest 25-to-30-year-ConcreteFest in state history - - and help get transit extensions introduced into the plan as a gesture towards a mere modicum of transportation system balance.

Or that the rising price of gasoline will someday, prayerfully soon, register with the well-connected highway building lobby and the enablers to which they are wired in government, and introduce into their insulated and self-interested world a little planning logic as the first real efficiency in this entire, multi-billion-dollar effort.

The public information sessions will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center at State Fair Park, 640 S. 84th St., and from 5 to 8 p.m. May 29 in the Wauwatosa West High School cafeteria, 11400 W. Center St., Wauwatosa.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Yup WisDOT is at it again... Homes... Business... tax base... naw more concrete