Saturday, March 23, 2019

Foxconn road 'improvements' echo similar regional battles

Get ready for a long, costly battle against your own taxpayer-funded government.

Because when the road builder-legislator complex aligns its planners and road-graders for 'improvements,' good data, citizen complaints and common sense get bulldozed, too.

That would be my message to people objecting to state-planned-but-county-supported 'improvements' on a local road to serve the Foxconn project:
The preferred project presented by the DOT requires the purchase of 68.9 acres of new right of way, affects 14 farms and requires the purchase of five homes. A total of 2.7-acres of floodplain and 7.44 acres of wetlands will also be affected.
And FYI, a complete archive is here about the Foxconn project whose purposes and timetables have changed faster than the weather. A sample:
* Doesn't matter if Foxconn fails or bolts or simply shrinks: [Assembly Speaker Robin] Vos got all that highway money for his district.
Vos is King of Sprawlville
We don't yet know whether the scandalously-'planned' and politically-greased  Foxconn project will collapse quickly or shrink into broken-promised irrelevancy - - or whether politicians will be bold enough to say "mea culpa" and cut the public's losses - - but one thing we know for sure:
WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos managed in a state without two spare potholes-filling nickels to rub together to steer to and through his district a quarter of a billion federal and state road-and-interchange widening dollars that will trigger sprawl beyond bulldozed Mount Pleasant farms even if Foxconn never diverts a gallon of Lake Michigan water to produce a single big screen LCD TV.
Robin Vos speaks at Racine Tea Party event (8378614585).jpg 
Note that Wisconsin DOT says it wants to widen the road, County Highway KR, into a four-lane divided highway with a median, and that "51 public comments have were received at two public hearings... who generally do not support the project in its current configuration."

Here is a WisDOT link about the project:
WisDOT, Racine County and Kenosha County entered into a state trunk highway jurisdictional transfer agreement in April 2018 for County KR improvements between I-94 and Old Green Bay Road. The agreement allows WisDOT to complete design and construction activities for this section of County KR. The counties are responsible for right of way acquisition and relocations. After construction, WisDOT will return jurisdiction of the roadway to the counties for ongoing control, access rights and maintenance. 
The design and construction of the section of County KR between I-94 and County H (County KR-Phase 1) is being completed as part of the Wisconn Valley Development Road projects within the Foxconn Electronics and Information Technology Manufacturing (EITM) zone. The section between County H and Old Green Bay Road lies outside the EITM zone and is being evaluated in the Environmental Assessment (EA). It is also referred to as the County KR-Phase 2 project.
Residents along Highway KR are also raising questions about the traffic counts used to support the expansion and its proposed, 45 miles-per-hour speed limit.

That reminded me of the slippery procedures used to get Highway 23 west of Sheboygan into the budget and the citizen effort and expense to knock it out.

And the concerns along the KR corridor reminded me of WisDOT's bulldozing bullying to begin widening Highway 164/J north of I-94 - - an expansion which the authorities began despite petitions in opposition signed by more than 15,000 people - - and which finally ground to a halt in Federal court - - but which continued to flare up - - after years of grassroots struggle and litigation.
Note also that the Highway 164/J coalition had also fought for safer, lowered speed limits, though as people who are familiar with the 'expanded-and-improved' Lake South Parkway through Milwaukee's south side know full well, it didn't take too long for the speed limit there to jump to 50 mph.

Because WisDOt-promoted expansion can have consequences years after the paving is finished; I'm on that road often, and doing 50 mph there will earn you loud horns dirty looks from motorists who think Interstate-freeway speeds are their right.

Speaking of which, it was Robin Vos who pushed hard to raise freeway speed limits in Wisconsin to 70 mph despite the obvious - - that faster-moving traffic makes crashes more serious.
I mean, why listen to stupid experts with facts in hand when a Robin Vos knows better?
More reason that the good folks along Highway KR should expect a costly and uphill battle against a widened, faster-moving and 'improved' finished project.

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