Tuesday, May 6, 2008

John Norquist: I-94 Expansion From Milwaukee-To-Illinois, at $1.9 Billion, Is Misconceived And Wasteful

Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, now President of a Chicago-based planning organization, sent a comment to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation about its $1.9 billion plan to rebuild and expand I-94 from Milwaukee to the Illinois border.

The comment period closed Monday. Here is Mayor Norquist's comment:

"WisDOT's proposal to widen I-94 from six lanes to eight lanes from Mitchell Interchange to the Illinois border should be rejected.

"Instead, the State of Wisconsin should resurface the existing facility, thus extending its use for many additional years and saving a billion or more of taxpayers dollars.

"The stated reason for the widening is to accommodate projected traffic growth and to "modernize" the ramps and interchanges to correct what WisDOT calls"functional deficiencies.'"

"As for the widening, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) states "existing travel times within the corridor are not currently encumbered by congestion - reductions in travel time will be minimal.'"

"The functional deficiency of the ramps is expensive and is unlikely to increase safety. Traffic deaths, for example, result largely from two factors, speed and alcohol consumption.

"Spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars to widen turning radii and lengthening ramps will encourage faster drive speeds and increasing the chance of fatal accidents."

"The waste of resources of scarce tax money on functional conditions can actually be tragic if those resources could be spent to alleviate dangerous structural deficiencies. This may have been the case in Minnesota where resources were invested in "modernizing" ramps on an interchange on I- 35 not far from the deadly collapse of the structurally deficient bridge in downtown Minneapolis.

"Lane widening and ramp lengthening are less complicated projects and likely more profitable than fixing structural deficiencies which contain the risk of cost overruns.

"If the state commits the exorbitant amount of tax money proposed for I-94, less money will be available to repair the many structurally-deficient bridges in Wisconsin.

"If a tragedy resulted it would, in my opinion, not be unreasonable to hold WISDOT, and ultimately the Governor, responsible.

"As a former member of the Wisconsin Legislature and the Mayor of Milwaukee from 1988 to 2004, I appreciate the opportunity to comment."

John Norquist
President of the Congress for the New Urbanism
140 S Dearborn
Chicago, Il 60603


Anonymous said...

Norquist has/had good sense, I always liked him.

(your "Progressive Webmasters of Wisc" links, on your homepage, do not work.)

James Rowen said...

Thanks to Anon;
I killed tha bad link, too.

Jack Lohman said...

The I94 expansion is a clear giveaway to the road contractors that fund the political elections. Just another example of the high costs of political corruption.

Anonymous said...

I listened to Mayor Norquist make these same comments some years back, when he addressed the annual convention of the Wisconsin Towns Assn. Needless to say, the towns of Wisconsin and the City of Milwaukee weren't/aren't the best of buddies. He was one of the most interesting speakers I think I have ever heard, and most of us in the WTA were on his side regarding the vast bucks being poured into the Marquette interchange and beyond.

I wish him well, and still agree with his take on the interstates through Milwaukee.