Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Officials Want Fresh $207 Million For A Suburban Freeway Mini-Extension

This is what passes for planning in Our Land of Highways.

* The Milwaukee-area bus system is on life-support.

* The commuter train through the South suburbs to Racine and Kenosha is dead, snuffed by talk radio and Legislative Republican led by the railophobic, transit-authority-averse Assembly Rep. Robin Vos, (R-Burlington).

*  And many area streets, maintained by cash-strapped municipalities, have potholes so deep they need Environmental Impact Statements and building permits for repairs...

*...Yet South suburban leaders are asking for another $207 million in our deficit-ridden- toll-free, gas-tax dependent state to extend I-794 six miles - - at $34.5 million/per-mile - - past the airport (this is over-and-above the $6.4 billion regional free[sic]way improvement [sic] plan) just to cut five minutes off a daily commute on some local streets to or from Milwaukee.

And some of these leaders want the 794 rammed all the way south to Illinois, even though taxpayers are paying - - right now - - $1.9 billion to add a lane to I-94 just a few miles away also to the Illinois border from the south side of Milwaukee.

Call Walker's Fraud and Waste Task Force. If this isn't grand-scale public finance excrescence, what is?

Because how many taxpayer-paid corridors with lanes, medians , shoulders and ramps do these people and their leaders want, and why?

Is there no limit to their self-serving entitlement, their taxpayer-financed greed and largess larded on to the road-builders bottom lines?

You can ask the planners, and some of the local and state officials who want all this spending some questions at a public Town Hall-style meeting tonight beginning at 6 p.m., in the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, 901 15th St., but we all know how these projects go: a so-called advisory committee stacked with government officials makes a recommendation to build - - as has already taken place in this case - - and once the public has been allowed its turn at a meeting with nice graphics, story boards and hand-outs - - but without sworn testimony - - the project moves towards implementation and funding with little or no follow-through on changes in favor of transit, biking or other alternatives.

This is not comprehensive, land-use-based planning.

It's road-building addicted madness - - enabled, as always, by the reliably-highway-compliant Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission - - as I interpret the Journal Sentinel from the link above:

Of the 118 acres that would have to be acquired, 41 acres are considered primary environmental corridors, 27 acres are wetlands and 20 acres are parkland, the study says. But in many cases, the parkland, wetland and primary environmental corridor designations overlap, noted Ken Yunker, the planning commission's executive director.
Oh, good. The lost environmentally-sensitive wood and wetlands may drop into mere double-figures - - so a burn-off of precious resource capital handed down over generations won't be so bad after all - - like the erasure of County Grounds public space for a research park and engineering college buildings on the western edge of Milwaukee.

Class A felonies against the land and legacy, reduced to Class B or C crimes against conservation and the commons.

What foresight. What stewardship.

And don't worry your pretty little head over those filled, paved, concretized wetlands in the way of highway-building progress, Mother Nature.

Under Walker's new 'Pave-A-Wetlands, Hug-A-Developer Act' promoted by the Wisconsin Builders Association, the lost wetlands will be mitigated (read: artificially-replaced-or-enhanced-new-and-improved-and-better-than-the-stupid-old-original) somewhere else in the state.

Could be Lincoln County, could be Grant or Vilas County, could be anywhere.

That works, right?

And about that parkland? It's a drop in the bucket. A tree falling in the forest.

Twenty acres?


And hey: Let's be honest. Parks are for the riffraff. They're so 1930's and 40's. Doesn't everyone these days have a backyard, with a white-washed picket fence, a picnic table and a leafy maple or two?

Though ye suburbanites now might need a taller fence, or one of those publicly-financed lovely sound-barriers to block out the noise from the new lanes and roads in Our Your Land of Highways. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This 794 extension would provide better access to Racine and Kenosha. Currently there is not one 4 lane highway between the city of racine and Milwaukee. I-94 is nine miles and 20-30 minutes from the lakeshore of Racine. We don't even have one four lane highway that heads west out to I-94in northern Racine county while most of the counties population lives along the lake. Is it any surprise that Racine leads the state in unemployment every year?