Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Comments due Saturday: Governor's task force recommends fewer highway projects

The Governor's Task Force on Global Warming is recommending the state expand its travel options in order to reduce vehicle miles traveled. In other words, quit putting such a big share of the state transportation budget into roads.

("Global warming" is a phrase not mentioned in the state's environmental impact statement for its proposed unfunded $1.9 billion North-South I-94 expansion project.)

Says the Transportation Group's recommendation:

A recent study in the Seattle metro area estimated that even if new car mileage were increased to 94.5 mpg and the carbon content of fuels reduced by 40%, it would still require an 18% reduction in VMT to meet the region’s goal of cutting GHG from transportation by 80%. The magnitude of needed VMT reduction may be different in Wisconsin, but the principle is the same...

To combat global warming, transportation policy must focus instead on accessibility – facilitating access to destinations via compact development and varied modes of travel, as well as auto mobility. This effort will require considering land use and transportation together and a variety of other actions...

Fix it first: Wisconsin shall strengthen its fix-it-first policy on roadways to place a priority on rehabilitation of existing infrastructure over adding new lane-miles....

This multifaceted policy faces a variety of barriers. In general, it will be necessary to work cooperatively with local governments so that they agree to new rules in a field – local land use planning – that is traditionally a local issue. To this end, this policy should not pre-empt any local decision-making that does not affect the statewide goal of GHG reduction, and it should emphasize incentives to local governments and private entities as well as new requirements. Another barrier is institutional resistance to altering the paradigm that maximizing mobility (rather than accessibility) is the ultimate goal. This institutional inertia should not be underestimated, and must be addressed with strong leadership in all affected agencies.

There are many more recommendations from the Task Force's Transportation Work Group, along with an email link for public comments, here (scroll down on the page). Comments are due Saturday, Dec. 8. Hurry, time is running out!

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