Thursday, June 18, 2009

Highway Expansion A Dagger Pointed At Milwaukee's West Side

So argues Bob Trimmier, a former City of Milwaukee neighborhood planner who knows the West side well, in a timely Journal Sentinel op-ed.
Trimmier tells readers that:

The planned Zoo Interchange expansion and rebuilding costing $2.3 billion is unneeded and wasteful;

It will force expansion past a wonderful neighborhood, Story Hill, just to the east, because the Marquette Interchange and I-94 North-South segments will have been completed, thus congesting everything right at and through Story Hill.

The vicious cycle will continue, as it has since the interstate highway system began smashing through Milwaukee's center 50 years ago, carving up the city's heart and now long-gone neighborhoods instead of connecting the outer ring to other destinations.

Trimmier also notes that Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials have routinely disregard public input, reducing the comment phase of its big projects to transparent, conceded charades.

Everyone knows basic go/no go decisions have been made once the draft plan is released: the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, which created the freeway expansion and reconstruction plan for WisDOT that is giving us 127 new freeway lane miles in a seven-county area, usually behaves in much the same way.

Phase One: While the plan is being drafted, the word is: don't make any assumptions, since it's too soon to know what the outcome will be.

Phase Two: Once the draft is released, the word is: by golly, it's too late in the game - - we've spent too much time and money to make any real changes to the draft.

Former Mayor John Norquist threw that construct out in speeches and power points, and sometimes it got a laugh, but plenty of audience members cringed because they knew it was true.

Trimmier, for one, isn't laughing, and trust me: people on the West side - - and taxpayers generally - - see the WisDOT/SEWRPC highway expansion gouging its way towards them.

And are cringing.

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