Friday, October 29, 2010

Can We Get Some Facts About Toll Roads In Wisconsin, Please?

You might want to read the thoughtful and documented posting on the Public Policy Forum's website to get some actual factual information before you run off and drink the Kool-aid about toll roads being served up by special interests and Scott Walker - -  formerly an opponent of toll roads but a major recipient of road-builder largesse during his run for Governor.

Seems the Feds require you prove worsening congestion on the roads to be tolled, and data - - not anecdotal events or gut feelings or campaign spin - - indicate the Milwaukee metro area - - the state's most-heavily-populated region - - wouldn't meet that threshold, according to the "Texas Transportation Institute's (TTI) latest Urban Mobility Report," says the Forum.

"According to that report (as discussed in this July 2009 blog post), congestion in Metro Milwaukee has not grown since the 1990s. Examination of the report also reveals that each of the large urban areas that has implemented HOT lanes - Orange County (CA), San Diego, Houston, Denver and Minneapolis - ranks among the top 25 in terms of highway traveler delays, while Milwaukee ranks 67th.

"An updated TTI report on traffic congestion levels is scheduled to be released in the near future. It will be interesting to see whether the new report provides additional clues regarding the efficacy of HOT lanes in Milwaukee."

There needs to be more substance surrounding this sudden interest in tolling than the contorted effort by Charlie Sykes to make Walker's support for tolling credible.

And this editorial in the Journal Sentinel doesn't cut it, either - - and I note that the editorial praises tolling as a way to support transit, while the paper's reporting on Walker's conversion to toll lanes  - - beginning here - - provides nothing to suggest that Walker sees toll collections as anything but a revenue stream to boost the highway fund and give motorists new new lanes.

That's been the context for the sudden discussion - - getting more revenue for road-building as gas tax collections fall and some highway money was spent elsewhere.

The Forum's posting is a solid effort to get some rationality into an important policy discussion that, right  now, has been distorted by politics.

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