Thursday, June 17, 2021

Shorewood roadwork echoes earlier Shorewood, Milwaukee tree-cutting plans

Shorewood could cut numerous trees to make way for roadwork. 

Lake Drive reconstruction in Shorewood could involve widening roads and removing trees

I blogged 13 years ago about a similar plan there, and a separate scheme along the same lines on Milwaukee's south side, so I am reposting that content below because history seems to be repeating itself:

From June 2, 2008:

Road-Widening Ticketed For Shorewood: Good-Bye Trees, Hello Traffic

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation department (WisDOT) wants to widen E. Capitol Drive. through the Village of Shorewood, at the expense of more than 40 trees and a whole lot of peace of mind, reports the Daily Reporter.

This single sentence high in reporter Sean Ryan's story sums it up:

"The village and WisDOT are bound to have conflicting priorities, said Chris Swartz, village manager, because the state’s priority is to rapidly move vehicles through the village."

I can't decide if WisDOT is run on masochism, pure arrogance, or complete disconnection from the good people of the state who pay the taxes and fees that keep WisDOT staffers employed.

You want to stir up a hornet's nest?

Shorewood is a fine place in southeastern Wisconsin to do it.

This reminds me of an ugly plan that WisDOT sprung on a mile or so of tree-lined S. 27th St. (Layton Blvd.) in Milwaukee in 1999.

S. 27th St. was listed as a state highway (41), as is E. Capitol Dr. (190), which gave WisDOT the authority to try and rebuild it to move traffic faster, with easier access for trucks, through what was and remains an historic Milwaukee residential area.

The south side corridor, including the famous "Doctor's Row" of lovely homes and churches, has sidewalks filled with kids and seniors, shoppers, renters and homeowners.

The section of s. 27th St. targeted for widening by WisDOT contained 280 mature trees.

E. Capitol Dr. is the main east-west road through Shorewood - - a community of one-square-mile just north of the City of Milwaukee line - - that also has that same mix of old and young, shops, schools, churches and residents right on and close to E. Capitol Dr.

Long story short: The S. 27th St. expansion didn't happen.

Then-Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist (yes, I was working for him at the time) and his south side neighbors (yes, WisDOT picked highway-fighter Norquist's backyard for expansion) in the Historic Layton Boulevard Neighborhood Association gave WisDOT officials a deservedly-outraged thrashing, and now-retired Journal Sentinel columnist Whitney Gould raised a substantial alarm, too.

That was quite the anti-expansion trifecta, let me tell you.

So S. 27th St. got rebuilt and repaved only within its existing configuration, and maps and signage got changed to tell out-of-state truckers that their best route in, out and around the city was I-94, and did not include a trip on S. 27th St. (details here).

It was a simple solution to a really bad idea, but it took work.

Shorewood needs to gather its allies and raise its voice to achieve the same outcome, or residents there will find themselves on a more-intentioned truck-and-commuter route that is totally out-of-character with their community.

People: look no further than the 2019 debacle along State Highway 23:

I've written about it before, but I want to showcase the group's focus [by 1000 Friends of Wisconsin] 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:

The big question is: Why does Wisconsin keep threatening or destroying its strong, surviving trees - 

Outraged citizens fought with Milwaukee County officials and saved these mighty oaks along the Milwaukee River in Kletzsch Park

- even for a private gold course development in popular Kohler Andrae State Park! -  at the very time the atmosphere is heating up with pollutants that trees absorb and filter.

So I've got to ask the bigger questions:

What is our problem, and have we learned nothing? 

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