Thursday, December 20, 2007

WisDOT punches Milwaukee again

Negotiations to save a bus route that carries Milwaukee residents to Waukesha jobs are headed for failure. No one wants to pay the $100,000 cost of the bus, and Milwaukee resident will end up bearing the brunt of the burden of the cut.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation wants to spend $1.9 billion-plus-hundreds-of-millions-in interest to expand North-South I-94 even though it will add enormous amounts of construction- and vehicle-related pollution just when Milwaukee is likely to be declared a non-attainment area for particulate pollution under new EPA guidelines. WisDOT's very merry projections of declining pollution levels after the expansion project are based in part on huge increases in mass transit and guess what -- WisDOT isn't proposing funding for new mass transit projects.

WisDOT also says proposed interchange at Drexel Ave. in Oak Creek may (WisDOT quite often uses the word "may" when it means "will") hurt redevelopment efforts on the S. 27th St. corridor in Milwaukee and may mean businesses may be less likely to move to developed commercial strips when they can waltz into the new commercial area opened up by the interchange. "Induced development," they call it.

And here we are again: Milwaukee is hurt by the decision to cut the No. 9 bus route; Milwaukee is hurt by WisDOT's decision to push ahead with a pollution-generating freeway expansion project when Milwaukee is going to be a non-compliance area for pollution; and Milwaukee is hurt by WisDOT's decision to subsidize suburban sprawl in Oak Creek at the expense of commercial strips in the big city.

And I haven't even mentioned the reeky, rotten Pabst Farms interchange deal that will open up more of Waukesha County at the expense of -- you guessed it -- Milwaukee.

What gives here? These sprawl subsidies are bestowed by WisDOT, which answers directly to the road-building industry and Gov. Jim Doyle. I'm trying to figure out why Doyle is using the WisDOT budget to fillet and gut Milwaukee and Milwaukee redevelopment efforts.

A cynic might suggest that the state's transportation policies are designed to keep Milwaukee residents in Milwaukee and suburban residents flying through the city as fast as wider freeways can carry them.

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