Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Carpenter calls for halt to throwing money away on I-94 expansion; Bauman agrees

State Sen. Tim Carpenter this week called for the state to abandon its plan to expand North-South I-94, an effort that was applauded Thursday by Milwaukee Ald. Robert Bauman.

In announcing his opposition to freeway expansion, Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) cited findings from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's on environmental impact statement on the project.

"Reconstructionof this freeway is needed; expansion is not," he said. "Adding more lanes would increase the cost of the project by about $200 million to a total of $1.9 billion, but would provide littled ifference in travel times or any other significant benefit.”

That $200 million could create jobs related to fixing streets that are desperately in need of repair, he said.

"We should allow cities and towns to use such funds for greatly needed local road reconstruction, and pothole, sewer and water systems repair,” he said.

Gov. Jim Doyle and Transportation Secretary Frank Busalachhi are pushing ahead with freeway expansion, despite its limited benefits and high cost.

Spending $200 million on expanding the freeway “is an extravagance," Carpenter said. "It is not in the best of interests of Wisconsin taxpayers or drivers. When millions are needed for local infrastructure repair, spending $200 million on this freeway expansion is not prudent."

Bauman, in supporting Carpenter's stance, said that spending $200 million on expandion "is a massive waste of money during tough economic times that could and should be used instead to fix local streets and create job opportunities here.”

Bauman said the city's street pains are outlined in the findings of a comptroller's report. Among them:
  • 214 miles (approx. 20% of the city’s streets) are in “poor” condition and require “immediate replacement.”
  • Milwaukee has a total of 1,415 miles of roadway of which 1,024 miles are local residential streets (the others are state highways, arterials and collectors).
  • 448 miles (43%) of local streets are in fair condition; and 361 miles (35%) are in good condition.
  • The average age of local streets is 41.7 years.
  • The average life of a local street is 50 years.
  • The average cost to replace a mile of local street is $910,000.
  • The current replacement cycle for local streets is 106 years.
  • City budgets have underfunded local street replacement/reconstruction for at least two decades.
  • The 2009 city budget appropriated $10.3 million for local street onstruction/replacement.
  • The city would need to appropriate approximately $25.5 Million per year to achieve a 1:1 ratio of service life to replacement cycle (replacement of 28 miles of local streets per year).

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