Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Lane Needed To Cut Marquette Interchange Crowding; So Soon?

It was just a few years ago that the $810 million Marquette Interchange project to 'modernize' the layout and reduce congestion in its spaghetti of bridges and highways was said to be completed on time and under budget - - but the redesign and the rebuild in the Interchange just west of Downtown caused so much fresh congestion that a paralyzing halt to fix the Big Fix is now underway as WisDOT squeezes in an "auxiliary lane" west of downtown to unclog the westward flow.

This fresh round of construction-related congestion, as well as what passes for 'norma'l for commuters between downtown Milwaukee and the burbs to the west - - rain or shine, every day, with longer waits on Brewer home game days - - could have been mitigated if a weak Gov. Tommy Thompson, right-wing talk radio and Waukesha's anti-urban politicians hadn't killed planning that Thompson had once backed for modern light rail lines running parallel to the crowded I-94 corridor.

Light rail was not only in the plan - - Tommy even moved it onto a quicker timetable when he came to former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist's office to promote it, along with DOA Secretary Jim Klauser and more WisDOT suits than you'd see in a month's Men's Warehouse commercials - - only to back down when talk radio started snarling and Waukesha County Executive Dan Finley said "no."

And kept saying "no" after Waukesha was dropped from the plan - - dooming residents here and there to decades more I-94 congestion, regardless of new lanes and other so-called improvements.

Light rail lines would have extended into the Third Ward, the Menomonee Valley, Miler Park, the Medical Complex, the County Zoo and the expanding research park and UW-M Engineering school on the County Grounds - - a complex right in the heart of the Zoo Interchange expansion and rebuild that is 50%+ more expensive than the Marquette Interchange project.

The opponents to light rail cloaked their political objections in specious and insincere fiscal arguments - - as if highway construction, maintenance, plowing, land-striping, patrolling and auxiliary add-on-lanes  - - come for free. 

Together the Zoo and Marquette Interchange projects will cost taxpayers more than $2.1 billion  - - without a dime spent on transit improvements of any kind.

And let's not forget the cost of replacing one failed brand new ramp not long after the Marquette re-opened - - and though the contractor bore the cost, I'm sure taxpayers somewhere absorbed that cost somehow down the line.

Some 'freeways.'


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

the thing about freeways that has been demonstrated over the past half century is that regardless of how many lanes or how much capacity is designed, they reach and exceed that capacity FAR FASTER than the traffic engineering experts ever anticiapate.

Partially it is due to the shortsighted development and planning standards that have encouraged flat, low density development, but part of it is also human nature; if there is less barrier to driving more, people will drive more.

So the freeways fill up faster than thought, and we build more freeways. Repeat. The only ones making out on he deal are the contractors, and the politicians who get the inevitable quid pro quo donations.

Let 'em congest, I say.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

IN any case, not "free" in any sense of the word.

Paul Berge said...

What do I care? I've got a minivan! Now get out of my way.
--Rebecca K.

Anonymous said...

The modern vacume allows one to buy bigger and bigger bags as your dirt increases. Adding more lanes will perhaps in the short term relieve congestion but as more people in their moving mini castles gravitate towards the open spaces the congestion soon builds up to a crescendo when the whole cycle begins again and more lanes are added.

And the minions will avoid city side streets at all costs and sit idle while listening to their favorite right wing hacker make them believe that their state of sitting on thier rear ends going nowhere is what they really need and want.
Sadly - they could be enjoying a stress free ride on light rail to their park and ride and using the time to read a book.
Ya have to wonder if the right wing hackers hate rail because there's no way to turn them on in a rail car. Of course there is other reasons - just saying...

Anonymous said...

A freeway system is like the the respiratory system into your lungs.

It has to be large enough for everything to move in and out at normal speeds.