Saturday, June 28, 2008

Is Government Interested In Hearing From The Public About Transportation Planning?

Wisconsin is continuing to press forward with billions of dollars in new highway construction ( 120 miles of new freeway lanes alone in the seven southeastern Wisconsin counties, as part of a $6.5 billion rebuild and expansion scheme) though story-after-story and fact-after-fact suggest - - actually scream - - that driving is declining as gasoline prices keep spiking.

An OPEC official is quoted this weekend predicting $170-per-barrel oil in six months.

Nationally we need a Marshall Plan or NASA-level initiative focused on transportation to make sure that we have decent transit within a relatively short time frame.

Wisconsin and the midwest states need their piece, as does Milwaukee, where the largest number of low-income people live.

If we had a state transportation department or regional planning commission that were run merely by realists, not psychic futurists, these agencies would have already begun to hold public listening sessions to respond to this new paradigm with transit planning driven by public input.

Instead, the transportation department is rushing the start of eight years of work on I-94 from Milwaukee to Illinois at a cost of $1.9 billion, without funding a parallel commuter rail line.

The plan was hatched a few years ago by the regional planning commission (SEWRPC) that used traffic predictions with gasoline costing about $2.50-a-gallon.

Now that things have changed drastically, is there any organized effort to begin to gather any opinion from the grassroots? Anyone at the state or regional levels interested in opinions from everyday people about what direction our transportation planning should be heading?



As I thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All of a sudden, Detroit seems to have gotten religion. Now, it looks like we will have electric cars before we know it. As soon as 2010, some say. So we will still be doing lots of driving, as individuals and family units. Oil companies presumably will find demand from airlines and the emerging markets of India and China, though I do not know why these latter would not go electric also.

So where does that leave rail? Still facing an extremely individualistic ideological ethic that says cars are the way to go. Will flying finally become so expensive that high-speed passenger rail becomes unavoidably practical? That seems one possibility.

Also, I do not hear about electric trucks. If we don't have adequate freight rail -- and our infrastructure is continuing to deteriorate all the time -- presumably we will be relying ever more on trucks. How will they be fueled? How much pollution will they continue to contribute to environment? I don't know, but the terms of the debate do seem to have very suddenly shifted.