Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Evers backs discarded I-94 expansion past Story Hill

There is no constituency or true priority for, and zero fit with environmental justice and climate science facts and agendas to justify rebooting the Story Hill-area I-94 expansion which even road-building-boosting Walker had abandoned.

Why are we still dreaming about adding expensive 'freeway' [sic] lanes while the potholes ('Scottholes') and crumbled pavement statewide which helped drive Walker out of office remain unrepaired.

The last time I checked, Wisconsin's road system infrastructure among the states ranked 44th out of 50.  

Is this proposed spending of hundreds of millions of dollars and foisting years more encounters with heavy equipment and orange barrels on the public really in the public interest?

I hope this renewed interest in the I-94 boondoggle goes nowhere, fast.

Regrettably, this is the second Walker road-building gift to road-builders Evers has revived. The first was the Highway 23 project which was blocked by a federal judge who found WisDOT's funding application unsupportable.

Once Evers suddenly green-lit the project, down came trees in the 'rural road's 'right-of-way.'

Look: Walker is gone: there's no need to revive his 'expansionist, free-spending 'vision' which has been anti-city since 2003:
Walker vetoes board's freeway widening opposition
Though more than three years ago I said the Story Hill expansion could come back because the road-builder/government complex is so powerful and persistent:

Story Hill spared ruinous, costly I-94 widening. For now.

The Journal Sentinel is reporting that right-wing GOP Gov. and long-time Friends of the Road Builders Scott Walker's suicidally-bloated highway expansion budget will be somewhat reined in by his dropping the politically and fiscally toxic plan to widen I-94 E/W past Miller Park and Story Hill but also finishing I-94 N/S between Milwaukee and the Illinois line to satisfy GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and his Racine County constituents.

Citizens have been fighting this I-94 E/W "Billion Dollar Boondoggle" for years:
“This costly highway widening would divide our neighborhoods, increase air and noise pollution, pollute our waterways, while diverting over a billion dollars away from the repair of our crumbling roads and bridges and the transit that connects workers to jobs and prosperity,” said Juan Carlos Ruiz, Chair of the Cleaner Milwaukee Coalition. “Some residents are also concerned that this construction could bring down their property values...” 
“This billion dollar boondoggle is another costly highway expansion that will divert hundreds of millions of dollars away from the repair of our crumbling roads and bridges and the local repair needs that are currently underfunded,” said Bruce Speight, WISPIRG Director.  “Wisconsin taxpayers should not be footing the bill for highways that aren’t needed.  We want and need better transportation options in our communities.”
Always good to remember that Walker pushed the entire, unfunded, multi-billion-dollar Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Freeway plan as Milwaukee County Executive, and in his first six years as Governor - - in other words, when it was politically expedient for him.

Now, in a re-election year and a budget short of highway funds, it's expedient for him to pose as fiscally-responsible.

So I'd say that, for now, we should be cautiously optimistic about Story Hill and the West side of Milwaukee being spared the loss of property, tax base, clean air, and peace of mind - - essentially, that segment of the plan is collapsing if its own unfunded weight and space limitations within the narrow corridor - - but remember:

Never under-estimate the power of the road-builder/state government complex - - and especially Waukesha County and its tens of thousands of GOP-oriented, road-expansion, anti-transit commuters - - to lobby for the segment expansion which Walker is putting on hold and to foist more highway-widening projects

and wild spending on the public to meet their narrow, mutually-beneficial agendas.

Waukesha County commuters and the very powerful, symbiotically-linked road-builder/state government will worry and complain and fear-monger that the entire seven-county SE Freeway plan depends on Western Milwaukee County segment being completed, that the Zoo Interchange and Marquette Interchange projects will be left incomplete and orphaned without it, and the drumbeat to 'finish what we started' - - despite the lack of funding - - will begin.

So be happy today, but always vigilant. I don't think the matter is over.

How long are the suburbs going to keep taking city land and command precious public dollars to cut a few minutes off motorists' commuting times while urban and inter-city cleaner and greener rail alternatives are continually blocked, defunded and dismissed?

I-94 Ribbon Cutting Waukesha 1958

1 comment:

geo_ said...

How about Milwaukee County institute HOV Lanes, with stiff fines. That way the suburbanites can pay for their need of rapidness.