Friday, December 30, 2016

WI toll roads would be road-builders' perpetual jackpot

Creating a tolling collection system in Wisconsin would send the worst possible signal to the habitual state over-spenders and false reckless stewards of the public's money.

It would enable and accelerate all the negative consequences of unchecked major highway construction and expansion - - suburban sprawl, urban disregard and the separation of workers from jobs, the loss of wetlands and woodlands and open space in and near transportation corridors, the starvation of transit as the population ages and millennial eschew car ownership, the deepening of the road-builders' sway over state officials, budgets and policy.

Do you know that the state has already been caught cooking the books to justify spending unnecessary millions to widen State Highway 23 near Plymouth and 164 north of I-94 through Waukesha County into Washington County?

Had there been a bottomless pot of toll dollars to tap, those unneeded new lanes and fancy exits built on taxable property and private land taken through pressure or eminent domain would have already been laid down with very little traffic to use them instead of being barred by a federal judge after litigation

Do you hear one word about any transit commitment from the current regime which has already killed Amtrak to Madison, a connection with Midwest High-Speed Rail and regional transit authorities which could coordinate such things and give the public some options?

And from what source would come the three or four hundred million dollars needed to create the tolling system?

You steal several dollars from every motorist driving every time in one direction alone from Milwaukee to Madison, or Waukesha to a Packers game in Green Bay, or Elkhorn to the Wisconsin Dells and Wisconsin's politicians will let the road-builders spend it on more concrete and highway add-ons that you can imagine.

With a nice percentage for themselves - - some of which will find its way to the politicians who set the casino into motion.



Sue said...

"The study assumes highway tolls would be collected electronically — via transponders in vehicles or by photographing vehicle license plates and mailing toll bills to vehicle owners. Such a system eliminates the need for motorists to stop to pay a toll, and for toll plazas that restrict highway access."
Illinois, when it upgraded its toll system between Chicago and WI a couple of years ago, still put in booths for cash payments. Lots of people still use them. Why invest in an I-Pass if you don't use the tollroads that often. And in IL, if you breeze through without paying you don't get a bill. You (or the owner of the vehicle you are driving) get a very expensive ticket. I'm thinking 'toll bill' might be a euphemism here.
So - no long-term job creation beyond construction (even if one assumes the toll system would be privatized), and a big, big headache for people who have to get places without enough cash to buy into the WI equivalent of I-pass or pay the after-the-fact "bill". Like, say, poor parents trying to get to Lincoln Hills, just as an example.

Anonymous said...

Scott Walker and his cronies have succeeded in teeing up this year's major "bomb" (Walker's words for his policies, not mine). Ginning up a highway crisis will allow him to proclaim, "we're broke" again" and then launch another "divide-and-conquer" (again, Walker's words for his political tactics).

The state's media have played along for years, lying that Scott Walker has balanced budgets in some mythical brave and heroic fashion despite the fact that Wisconsin law requires a balanced budget and Walker can only achieve this via accounting gimmicks, debt, and ballooning debt payments.

So how can Scott Walker snooker us with the lie that he has been fiscally responsibly with legitimately balanced budgets?

Well, he didn't snooker us at all. That took a network of media propaganda casting the disinformation across the state. Now that MJS's circulations are in the toilet and cratering, especially in Milwaukee, it does seem curious that the state's largest paper, that depends on Waukesha and other right-wing markets to sell it's trash, want to stick it to the outlying areas with toll highway system.

This will, by the administration's own analysis, reduce traffic across Wisconsin. Some parts of the state have no industry nor local economy other than tourism.

We will see oil go above $100 per barrel this year and likely approach it's all-time peak of over $140. The tolls being proposed sound small now, but then more-than double the cost of gas. There will be huge impacts.

Unlike Illinois, that cannot really be avoided when transversing the Midwest East/West (because of Lake Michigan) and which carries important North/South arterial, Wisconsin can be entirely avoided if your destination is not here. And please remember, any Wisconsin tourist destination can be scratched off this year's vacation and replaced with another fun spot.

We've seen this game before:

1. Promote Scott Walker as a fiscal conservative (NOT!)

2. Walker loots the public coffers to benefit his donors

3. This looting because the justification to impose austerity and destroy middle-class jobs.

4. The media uncritically repeats Walker's fairy tales and manufactures an illusion of consensus that Scott Walker is being "Big and Bold"(tm)and that we have no choice to do anything else, because -- well, just because.

5. Go back to step one and repeat.

Democurmudgeon said...

Wow, couldn't disagree more. I have not driven on a road yet that didn't seem to make sense. I've never seen an extra lane I didn't like. Actually never thought about it. I like having great roads... I'm tired after 55 years waiting for flying cars, smooth highways are a relief. Liberals shouldn't make road builders natural enemies, plus they'll be spending lots of out of state money. Anyway, it was a report, that's all.