Friday, May 30, 2008

Tomah Journal Editorial Again Clears The Air

The Tomah Journal continues a string of great editorials about land use, energy and spending with a strong call for more efficient development and vehicle use.

The editorial doesn't mention it, (an earlier one did) but Tomah is a perfect example of a community whose taxpayers will be sending money to faraway southeastern Wisconsin to pay the hundreds of millions needed to add 120 miles of new regional freeway lanes.

These lanes are part of a $6.5 billion freeway rebuilding plan - - with the biggest piece, $1.9 billion from Milwaukee to the Illinois border being rushed to a beginning this year though state documentation shows no gain in commuting times provided by 70 miles of new lanes running north and south.

State gas taxes, vehicle registration fees and borrowings will be paying for segments of the regional plan for another 20 years, even though higher gas prices will probably dampen driving and thus gas tax collections.

Investments in transit and local road repairs are better uses of transportation spending than new highways and sweeping new interchanges, but the regional plan doesn't allocate any money for rail initiatives or bus improvements, let alone to fill the pothole down the street.

Wisconsin and its regional planners could use more of Tomah's commonsense.

Instead, we're locked into an old, one-dimensional highway-only mindset in state government and its Department of Transportation that sends Tomah tax dollars to new lanes from Milwaukee past Kenosha where there is no real need.

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