Sunday, April 27, 2008

Great timing, Frank

The Wisconsin Department of Transporation is proposing to spend hundreds of millions on an unfunded, unneeded freeway expansion projects while accelerating the Zoo Interchange reconstruction project for purely political purposes.

The Federal Highway Trust Fund is going broke, and here's how WisDOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi assesses the state's transporation founding outlook, according to the JS.

"If Congress does not address the revenue shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, my state's funding, assuming no corrective action, will drop by nearly $100 million in 2009," he said.

Oh, yeah. Let's spend that money we don't have and pretend the bill is never going to come due.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Great MilwaukeeWorld post

Michael Horne at MilwaukeeWorld has a great post on the Federal Highway Trust Fund's looming deficit, federal desires to raid transit money to pay for highways, bad faith dealings by WisDOT, and more.

It's a good read.

Transit Riders Union and School of Urban Planning Working Together

From our friends at the Milwaukee Transit Riders Union:

The Milwaukee Transit Riders Union will be hosting a presentation and open house organized by students from the School of Urban Planning at UWM this Saturday,
April 26. The Transit Riders Union is functioning as a client for a transit visioning and planning project at the school. The students will be presenting the results of their project as well as gathering public input. All interested in the future of public transit in our area are encouraged to attend.

The presentation and open house will occur during the Transit Riders Union meeting this Saturday, at 11:15 am, at Brewing Grounds for Change Coffeehouse. Agendas will be available before the meeting.

Brewing Grounds is located at 2008 N. Farwell on Milwaukee's East Side. It is located on rt. 30, is one block east of rt. 15, and 3 blocks south of rt. 21.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The I-94 expansion scam

Expanding North-South I-94 won't improve traffice speeds in Racine or Kenosha Counties. May do something for one-way drivers in Milwaukee County 28 years from now, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. More here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Highway builders hate McCain's gas tax holiday idea

Don't count on Republican presidential candidate John McCain's call for a gas tax moratorium to go anywhere real quick. The highway builders hate it, and transit folks aren't wild about it, either.

"This proposal would have devastating impacts upon the federal-aid highway and transit programs, sharply reducing funding available to states and jeopardizing hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide," said John Horsely, director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. "Such a move would be short-sighted and damaging to our nation's economy, while providing little relief to America's drivers."

AASHTO estimates that for the average motorists, driving approximately 12,000 miles per year, the savings would amount to roughly $28, less than the cost of a half tank of gasoline.

Meanwhile, the American Public Transit Association said much the same thing.

Now is the time for leadership on transportation issues, not pandering to voters with an alleged “quick fix” to the economy through the suspension of federal gas taxes through the summer months. With gas prices at an all time high, it is an easy thing to suggest the removal of the gas tax. However, stating that the suspension of gas taxes from Memorial Day to Labor Day ostensibly to help our economy hides the real truth -- that America’s transportation is intertwined with our high standard of living and prosperity. To cut back transportation infrastructure investment endangers, not boosts, our economy, our jobs and our way of life.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The latest road construction inflation figures

From the American Road & Transportation Builders Association:

The cost of highway and street construction materials was up 11.3 percent in February 2008 compared to the same month last year. During the same time period, inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, was 4 percent. Over the last five years, between 2003 and 2008, the price of highway and street construction materials rose 52 percent.

That 3% inflation rate
the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is assuming for the unfunded North-South I-94 freeway expansion project looks increasingly absurd with every day that passes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

WisDOT: Safety is not our concern

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation's needs to re-think its attitude toward safety. Its willing and outrageous ignorance of safety issues did not, fortunately, help kill anyone in Oconomowoc, but with numerous major regional projects on the drawing table, that luck probably won't hold.

This should simply not be tolerated.

From the Daily Reporter:

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation doesn’t review contractors’ safety violation records when qualifying them for contracts.

That means the 36 Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations (PDF) Dorner Inc. paid since 1998 weren’t questioned when WisDOT hired the Luxemburg-based contractor to rebuild Wisconsin Avenue in Oconomowoc.

“That’s between OSHA and them (Dorner). They were the low bidder,” said Dennis Shook, WisDOT regional communication manager.

A leaking underground gas pipe sparked an explosion on Wisconsin Avenue on April 2 that blew up the First Baptist Church and two houses. Authorities have not determined if Dorner played a role in the accident.