Monday, November 15, 2010

Walker's Rail/Roads Statement "Mostly Fiction Diction"

You may remember that Scott Walker told the Wisconsin State Journal not long ago that the Madison-Milwaukee high-speed rail funding could be redirected to road and bridge projects because there was a precedent:

$241 million in Milwaukee light rail funding had instead been put into the Marquette Interchange budget.

Except that never happened.

Here is the relevant the section of that story:

'Thompson set precedent

'"Walker has said he wants to use the train money on roads and bridges. That would require approval by Congress, which now has a Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives and a strong Republican minority in the U.S. Senate.

"He said a precedent for such a maneuver was set in 1998, when then-Gov. Tommy Thompson — with the help of Wisconsin's congressional delegation — used $241 million meant for light rail between Milwaukee and Waukesha County to fund the Marquette Interchange.

"'We're going to reach out to members like Jim Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan and Tom Petri to see if the same sort of thing could happen," he said."

So I posted the facts, which do not support Walker's account, here.

I said the funding went into several projects after half of the $241 million went to the state, and that a portion of the state's split went into the Marquette.

Of the total $241 million only about one-third went into the Marquette  - - and with contributions by the state of more than $43 million from its share of the total the Park East Freeway tear down and Sixth Street Bridge were completed.

Meaning that the state had a little less than $80 million of its portion of the original funding for the Marquette.

Bottom line: $80 million is not $241 million.

And the $241 million was never light rail funding.

Prove your account and accounting, you say.


I am putting a pdf link here to the official document disclosing exactly how the $241 million federal transportation dollars were used.

It supports my version of the disposition of the funding, and furthermore that the money - - in so-called ICE dollars - - was not designated light rail money.

ICE funds were provided under federal five-year omnibus transportation authorizations that could be spent to support transit; the final agreement among the city, county and state broke a long stalemate over the use of the funding and included road projects, like the Sixth Street Bridge, that enhanced the delivery of transit services rather directly buying or constructing them.

The final local share dollars not spent on the projects mentioned - - the ICE fund's unspent balance of $91.5 million - - has recently and finally been directed to new buses for Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee's emerging street car line.

As I had credited Walker's account possessing a nugget of truth because a portion of the funding ended up in the Marquette - - though the pot of money was never "meant for light rail," and his calculations were off by more than $160 million - - I rate Walker's claim  "Mostly Fiction Diction."

And since Walker has been told by the feds and others, no, the money cannot be reprogrammed for roads, our next Governor is zig-zagging to a new escape route: reprogramming the money to other rail lines in Wisconsin - - just not the link between Milwaukee and Madison.

Think he's feeling the heat?

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