Thursday, January 17, 2008

Different answers in the same room from WisDOT

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Donna Brown insisted I was trying to split hairs when I tried to ask whether capacity expansion would be part of the Zoo Interchange study. She didn't actually let me ask the question because, she said, she had seen an email earlier today and knew what I was thinking. Why let me even ask the question?


Yeah, I love the open dialogue of WisDOT's open houses. This one was held to gather input into the design of the Zoo Interchange.

The problem is that the contract for the project's environmental assessment says that increasing system capacity will not be addressed in the study, but WisDOT says the study will lead to a decision on whether to add capacity, so I wanted to know what the straight dope was.

But I didn't ask the question and Donna Brown said I was splitting hairs. Brown also said it was too soon to know if a recommendation for expansion will come out of the environmental assessment being undertaken by WisDOT's usual cast of contractors. And, she said, where the contract for that assessment says that system capacity expansion would not be considered, it was referring to expansion outside the project area. (To be accurate, she declined to use the word "environmental assessment;" she preferred the term "environmental document.")

Next I went to a table staffed by another member of the WisDOT's Zoo Interchange team, a Mr. Flynn. He said flatly that additional through traffic lanes will not be part of the project, though they may be in the future -- or if they are recommended by some other study. Which is exactly what the contract says.

One room, two people, two different answers. The usual straight dope from WisDOT.

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