Sunday, September 17, 2017

Foxconn bill signing to spotlight Walker/Vos transportation incompetence

Walker is to sign the Foxconn subsidy bill on Monday in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, where yes, there is an Amtrak station near Foxconn's likely state-subsidized development site, but, no, there isn't Amtrak service
for potential Madison and Dane County Foxconn hirees whom Walker intentionally denied a federally-funded Amtrak connection.

*  As I recently wrote during the unfolding FUBAR that is Foxconn:

Right-wing GOP WI Governor and shallow ideologue Scott Walker for the narrowest of partisan and self-serving political motives wiped out the federally-funded Hiawatha Amtrak connection between Madison and Milwaukee and south through Racine County to Chicago.
So there is more fresh context to Walker's stupid move beyond the lost ridership and convenience and intercity connections felt everyday in the region if you absorb these few relevant sentences in a long Journal Sentinel piece about the potential move by electronics behemoth Foxconn to build a massive plant near Racine: 
If Foxconn landed tomorrow, it would siphon tech talent from existing employers, leaving gaping holes throughout the region in one information technology department after another. Wage inflation would be inevitable, particularly for high-tech positions, as would be a new breed of long-distance commuter drawn from Chicago and Madison, who would spend hours every day on I-94, business leaders concur.
"Hours every day on I-94?"
What kind of selling point is that?
No one wants to or should spend their days that way, especially since I-94 is in the midst of years of delayed construction south from Milwaukee through Racine and Kenosha counties and east from Milwaukee through the Zoo interchange, and in a few years I-94 west from the Zoo Interchange to the Jefferson County line.
If Walker hadn't obstructed the Amtrak extension to win anti-Obama votes in Waukesha County during his 2010 campaign and then as follow-through when sworn in, the Madison-Milwaukee Amtrak line would be finished.
*  And there is no coordinated regional transit authority or regional commuter rail through Racine County to bring to the Foxconn site local and regional workers, contractors or visitors without cars or located too far to drive thanks to the transit-hostile stance of powerful Racine County state representative and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

Again, as I wrote recently, and thus to be fair, let's give Vos his proper shoutout for the FUBAR that is Foxconn and for the embarrassingly decision to have the Foxconn subsidy bill signed in Sturtevant:

The record shows that:
* Vos got the 2011 legislature to ban regional transit authorities, (RTAs), a move, by the way,  which has effectively blocked the construction of a commuter rail line (the KRM), linking Kenosha, Racine (Vos' home county) and Milwaukee counties, thus denying his own constituents rail services that also were to include an easy transfer to Chicago's METRA commuter service.
The KRM would have been a great selling point to Foxconn... 
 The wipeout of RTA's also made it harder in general  for transit services to be coordinated across County and jurisdictional boundaries, as I noted in 2016 when Vos was ramping up his campaign against transit by proposing (unsuccessfully, but it's a sure tell about his views), the removal of transit funding from the state transportation budget (more dedicated dollars for the road-builders), and making transit compete for regular state financing with other "social services."
...GOP Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, (R-Rochester, Racine County)...tried in the last state budget now that he is Assembly Speaker to further starve transit by removing it altogether from the state transportation fund - - a dream of the road-builders, for sure...considers transit "a social service."
Vos began to make his mark as Wisconsin Public Transit Enemy #1 or #2 ( remember, Walker is in charge) as a mere Assemblyman four years ago when he pushed the State Legislature to war counties from creating Regional Transit Authorities.
So more regional connections were barred and lost to counties, including Milwaukee - - just like what was sacrificed on a grander scale when Walker blocked new rail connections between Milwaukee, Madison and the Twin Cities when he successfully rejected $810 million in federal stimulus funds to add Amtrak services, rail bed upgrades, plus train assembly and maintenance jobs in Milwaukee, too.
 As I wrote in 2012, after Vos made his move against the RTA's:
Transit has been outright attacked in the region, led by State Rep. Robin Vos, a legislator from Racine County, a SEWRPC County.
Wisconsin legislators, with the full support of the Waukesha County delegations, used the 2011-2013 state budget to wipe out cooperative, cross-jurisdictional Regional Transit Authorities, which affirmed the anti-transit, anti-Milwaukee position taken by Waukesha's County Board when it refused to join such a body that could have more closely aligned services with Milwaukee.
If Foxconn were to build a 10,000-employee factory in Racine County, there would be a need for extensive transit coordination among Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee counties to help move unprecedented numbers of people in and out of the Racine area.
The very regional transit authorities Vos helped kill are the perfect method for that coordination, and also provide transit options, new development and business opportunities at stations, transfer points and along routes themselves.
It's called common sense, or transit oriented development.
 But as The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said in a 2013 editorial, Vos helped ban the regional transit authorities and has not followed through on a plan to recreate them 

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