Tuesday, December 23, 2008

State To Expand Highways Where The Air Is Already Unhealthy

Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha are among six Wisconsin counties violating federal air pollution rules, but the state Department of Transportation and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission are cooperating to add more lanes and traffic there.

The other counties are Brown, Columbia and Dane - - all still free of light or commuter rail, but with pavement aplenty.

Makes sense?


As I have often written, there is a severe disconnect between scientific and regulatory findings in the US and in Wisconsin about air pollution and greenhouse emissions from vehicle tailpipes that is not coordinated with publicly-financed planning and spending that encourages more driving precisely where the air is already rated as unhealthy.

The state DOT paid SEWRPC $1 million several years ago to write a transportation plan for the region that called for adding 127 miles of new freeway lanes in Milwaukee, Racine, Waukesha, Kenosha, Washington, Walworth and Ozaukee Counties.

The plan did not call for adding one cent to transit systems.

Of course, the DOT then embraced the plan it had paid for, spent $810 million on the Marquette Interchange reconstruction and widening (and by the way, is there a more chaotic, serpentine piece of new interstate highway in the country than the 'improved' exit from I-94 east to I-43 north past the courthouse, or a more dangerous downhill ski-run on interstate pavement than the now-rebuilt High Rise Bridge's descent to the west past the Marquette campus?), and is now busy launching between $2 billion and $3 additional billions to add lanes and rebuild both the Zoo Interchange and I-94 north and south between Milwaukee and Illinois.

OK: that's a long sentence, but this is the point:

Why should WisDOT be expanding the highways in known air quality non-attainment counties, and accelerating its plans after the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming set out a remedial agenda for the state to implement.


Not undermine.

So the feds are telling the state that Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha Counties are in violation of air quality standards, but the state continues to spend billions in federal highway funds to widen the roads there.

On a recommendation by SEWRPC, which receives 100% of its funding from taxpayers.

That's not government of, by and for the people.

It's government against the people.

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