Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Milwaukee Common Council Begins To Demand SEWRPC Reform

Milwaukee's Common Council committee on Steering and Rules voted unanimously Monday to urge fundamental and long-overdue changes in the structure of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, and to further ask the federal government to withhold the agency's quadrennial certification to approve transportation projects in the region.

Coincidentally, that certification review is underway right now.

This critical and assertive approach to SEWRPC, and its recognition that the agency structure and plans continually neglect the City of Milwaukee, has been years in the making.

Pick your tipping point:

SEWRPC's $6.5 billion freeway-only regional transportation study, pushed onto the state and feds while transit has declined in the area?

The 33-year-delay in writing a regional housing plan, despite recent efforts to promise, again, and again, that the study is right around the corner?

Last week's charade cooked up by the agency and the federal certification reviewers to deny the public the right to step up to a microphone and testify against SEWRPC?

The embarrassing grand total of three minorities among SEWRPC's 49-member professional staff? After 49 years of staffing - - just three minorities in the professional ranks, and no minority or City of Milwaukee resident in the so-called core staff of senior manages?

The agency's battle with its own Environmental Justice Task Force over whether the agency would include independent socio-economic analyses in its studies?

[Read a full brief in favor of a more urban-focused regional planning agency, here.]

Maybe this is the beginning of real public planning around here with a democratic basis, and a genuine role for Milwaukee in housing, transportation, water supply, land use and development work - - a role other than providing an easy-access bank account.

Assuming the full Council approves the resolution, it sends a signal to Milwaukee County, to SEWRPC, and to the feds, that the status quo is no longer acceptable.

I hope so, and I applaud the committee for its action.

Details here.


Anonymous said...

Please do not try and push Lt Rail no one uses it unless they live/work within two miles of the route.
I am TIRED of my taxes going to ideas that simply do not work.
Does SEWRPC need rework yes in fact get rid of it. How many groups do we need to copy and copy other groups like M-7?

James Rowen said...

Thanks for the comment. Light rail is a boon to transportation and development, and that's why it has worked well across the country. It would be goodfor our area.

The city and county already have planners and engineers and demographers on board. I feel much of SEWRPC's important technical work could be handled on contract, and by the city and county, but the SEWRPC bureaucracy and multi-million headquarters operation is not a good use of taxpayers' dollars.

Anonymous said...

Lt rail for movement of goods you are right is far better the roads truck to rail head point rail to city truck to end point is rocking good.
people moving no way.
I live in Racine I can walk to the KRM line will be great now how to I get around in Milwaukee or the Windy City without having to leave hours earlier then I would if I drove?
Lets say I live in Waterford or Greendale away from the KRM line.
Maybe you can help explan something that I have asked the KRM folks to no answer how is this all paid for and can you name two KRM type systems that pay for themselfs?
Like your blog

Amtrack for long distance movement of people does rock out. Say Milwaukee to LA

James Rowen said...

To Colt;

A few things:

Light rail is a form of passenger transit. It's not a freight system.

It would be a connection for you if there were the KRM and you got into Milwaukee, and transfered. Just as you can transfer to the El in Chicago at the train station.

KRM is not light rail. It would use a heavier train, like the Metra that takes you in and out of Chicago - - its for suburban commuters.

All rail systems are paid for in a combination of fares, and various public funds.

Anonymous said...

I do not live within 2 miles of the train and whenever I travel from Racine to Chicago I always take the train. I have a car and am capable of driving, but prefer the train. It's much less stress and very enjoyable. I prefer Amtrak over Metra, but the price is much higher on Amtrak so I tend to take Metra. An average commuter taking the train everyday to work would probably find Amtrak prices too high, Metra is much more economical. I should add, that no matter what day or which train I am taking, it always seems to be completely full and I've had times when I could not find 2 open seats together.

I would not want to take my car into Chicago, the traffic is insane and the price of parking steep. Taxis, buses, the "EL" are much more efficient. Public transportation in Chicago is plentiful, no need for a car.

Anonymous said...

With Respect you really think that more then a handful of folks will ride the KRM.
Still waiting for the names two transit system
that even come close to breaking even.
Freight using rail rocks and makes sense for building short public transit no.
Just can not see why more then a handful that lives close the KRM that will ever use it.

James Rowen said...

Breaking even is not the issue. the issue is ridership and the number of cars replaced, thus easing congestion for everyone else.

Look at the success of commuter rail in Chicago (Metra), Boston, and the heavy rail in DC - - Metro.

Light rail uses narrower track, different equipment and does not carry freight.

James Rowen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Rowen said...

One more thing: highways do not break even. So let's not have a double-standard.

Anonymous said...

So then If I understand right we should pump millions in to KRM becuse a handful will use it?
We should not care that once again that property owners will be called on again to support something that few want or use.
Last time I checked The Metra was millions in the red. The web sites for the DC system said there is a loss too.
Am I anti-rail only when it comes to short range transport of people put the money in to rail transport of goods get the semis off the road.
Put the money in Amtrack for long range transport of people all for it. Nicer then flying safer then driving.
Please do not raise my taxes for KRM

James Rowen said...

As I said, it's not about making money. Do the highways make money? No, the are considered a public service, and are paid for through a variety of fees and taxes.

Same for rail.