Friday, June 14, 2019

More on the wasteful, destructive 'improvements' to WI Highway 23

You want know why the potholes aren't being filled and communities statewide are starved for modern, accessible transit?  

A case study by !000 Friends of Wisconsin helps explain why.

I've written about it before, but I want to showcase the group's focus on the bigger picture as well as its comprehensive update 
to the damage being done right now to widen a stretch of State Highway 23 -

 - a project which had been delayed by a judge, fiscal sanity and common sense but the road-builders have outlasted everyone, regardless of which party is charge.

Gov. Evers’ proposed state budget has allocated $116.6 million of the state’s inadequate transportation budget to expanding a two-lane section of Highway 23, which experiences relatively little congestion, to a four lane expressway. There are other, less expensive ways to address the desired improvements, but the administration has failed to consider them...
Two courts have denied federal funding for the improvements sought on Highway 23 due to improbable future-use statistics and the failure to address environmental concerns. Although the courts ruled more recently that those objections have been addressed, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocate for sensible land use, contends that unacceptable flaws in the project still exist and that the funding is needed for critical problems in the state’s transportation infrastructure... 
The state has also identified a backlog of 1,955 bridges that need repair at a cost of $1.4 billion. The National Bridge Inventory classifies 1,043 of those bridges as structurally deficient. There’s a major backlog for repairing local roads because the state has cut back on local funding due to revenue shortfalls. 
There are no assurances that any new revenue for projects will be included in the coming biennial budget. The years-long stalemate over how to fund the backlog of construction projects is no closer to resolution than it was four years ago.
All of these issues were known when the decision was made to go ahead with Highway 23 expansion.  A LAB [Legislative Audit Bureau] audit of the State Highway Program clearly laid out the deficiencies. 
Yet this administration decided to push forward knowing that funding to complete the project has not been secured. In addition, the administration ignored: the warning signs of a funding crisis; the recent history of fiscal mismanagement; the unmet funding needs of projects already underway; the needs throughout the state system and for local roadways in serious disrepair
The project must be immediately shut down until a funding solution is established to meet the state’s existing maintenance needs and incomplete projects. 
To start a new project without first addressing these needs is fiscal management at its worst.

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