Skip to comments.Critics Decry Gov. Walker Plan to Delay Zoo Interchange and Other Highway Projects
Posted on 09/16/2016 7:11:28 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Gov. Scott Walker is drawing sharp criticism for his plan to delay highway projects, including the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee. In the past, the governor has hailed the interchange as key to state businesses that transport products throughout the region.
Walker mentioned MillerCoors in his 2013 State of the State address.
"MillerCoors is in a hyper-competitive industry. They're looking to find a competitive advantage: who can get a cold beer on a bar in Madison or Green Bay or even Chicago, the fastest. Beer trucks are tied up in the Zoo Interchange? The MillerCoors brewery here in Wisconsin is at a disadvantage," Walker said.
Now Walker wants to put off the project's completion for two years because he does not want to raise taxes or fees. Work has been underway for a couple years and its completion is slated for 2020. But Walker announced this week that he wants to push back the end date to 2022. He says the delay among others -- would allow him to increase funding for local roads and bridges, while holding the line on spending in his next biennial budget.
"Good roads and bridges are crucial for Wisconsin's economy, businesses and citizens, and this budget proposal proves you dont have to raise taxes or fees to maintain a safe and strong transportation network," Walker says.
The Zoo Interchange delay would affect thousands of drivers already weary of lane back-ups and detours. Ken Yunker is with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC).
"The Zoo Interchange carries over 300,000 vehicles -- autos and trucks -- on an average weekday, and is likely the busiest in the state of Wisconsin," Yunker says.
Walker's administration is trying to put the proposal in perspective. The Department of Transportation says core work on the Zoo Interchange would be completed, as planned, in 2020. Only the "north leg" -- highways 41 and 45, from Watertown Plank to Burleigh -- would take an extra two years.
Milwaukee Ald. Michael Murphy opposes any delays. His district borders the construction. Murphy says it's forced drivers off the highways and onto local roads.
"When you have a lot of congestion, you're going to have situations where traffic then unfortunately gets off the freeway and becomes a problem on local residential streets," Murphy says.
Murphy says some of those drivers make neighborhoods unsafe by speeding and ignoring stop signs.
GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is among state lawmakers voicing concerns about the Republican governor's plan, fearing delayed projects eventually will cost more. Yet Brookfield Republican Rep. Rob Hutton defends Walker for limiting spending in the next budget.
"I would applaud the governor (for) taking that perspective and I think it would be well-served for all the Legislature to be looking to that end, as well," Hutton says.
Hutton says legislators should closely examine the entire transportation budget when they get their crack at it.
"I think we have a lot more due diligence that we need to be doing, in terms of how can we more frugally operate and function within DOT. How can we do better in terms of prioritizing our projects and the infrastructure needs that we have, and what ways can we do more with less. I think we need to have far more of that discussion," Hutton says.
The reality Wisconsin faces, according to Ken Yunker of SEWRPC, is that some freeways are nearing the end of their useful life. So he wonders whether delays now will bump into other looming construction needs.
"The freeway system in southeastern Wisconsin was largely built in the late 1960s, early 1970s. And we face a need to rebuild not just the Zoo Interchange, but the entire freeway system," Yunker says.
Yunker says Wisconsin needs a sound plan to rebuild its system before it wears out.
“Zoo interchange in Milwaukee”.
That made me laugh.
Not undertaking projects until you can pay for them....what a novel concept!
In general, we have enough infrastructure already. We just need to maintain it.
Walker was on the Vicki McKenna show yesterday. He pointed out that the CORE part of the project is funded and will continue to be executed.
This is a high profile project, and is being used by Dems (and some Republicans) in Wisconsin to try to wrangle a gas tax increase (or God help us ... tolls) from the government.
Walker made it clear that he ran on NOT raising the gas taxes or putting in tolls, though he is willing to reallocate funds that are cut elsewhere (crickets). Wisconsin already has a high gasoline tax (38 cents?) and toll roads are anathema to anyone who has fled north from Illinois.
The State DOT has had numerous small vanity projects (roundabouts spawning like pod people) that never seem to get cut back.
Nobody in the media are bringing up the fact that the previous governor, democrat Doyle, diverted the 3 Billion transportation fund to cover WEAC teacher pension funds.
When Walker ran and won rhere was also a state constitutioonal referendum that stoped such diversions which passed
Exactly what you said.
Is Belling blaming Trump yet?
When I was a teenager my church wanted to build an addition. We had a “brick drive” and parishioners gave money to buy bricks. The addition was built with no debt.
My current church wanted to build a huge building, gym, full kitchen, etc. Every month church leaders are sweating where the money is coming from.
Anyway, WI is never a favorite drive-thru state because the drivers are so aggressive. And, the truck drivers are equally so. After having driven through MT and ND, I realized something. In those states, when they have a speed limit sign, below the number for car speed you will find a number for "trucks". That number is about 10 mph less than cars. I find that it makes the mix of cars and trucks traveling along I-90 a better and safer mix.
As for the road work that Walker is delaying, I dunno, we saw a lot of road work going on when we just drove through there. Maybe there is just too much going on at the moment to add another project?
Gov. Walker’s critics, Democrats, leftists and public employee unions, are agast he can propose a state budget that lessens borrowing, has little deficit spending and no tax increases.
Not so sure I agree with him on this one. The project is already underway so either there are cost overruns or they didn’t budget correctly to begin with. In either case you don’t screw the commuters by extending it 2-3 years.
Haven’t lived there in some time, but have been back during the construction and let’s just say it was a lot more difficult to get around then it used to be. Can’t imagine having to deal with it on a daily basis.
Frankly it smells like a crony-capitalist giveaway to MillerCoors.
Give us our own freeway exit...or else!
I’m 64 years old and grew-up in Milwaukee. They have been working on this interchange as long as I can remember.
The freeway exit was already there. They’re reconfiguring it to try to accommodate the roughly 300,000 vehicles that use it on a daily basis.
Governor Doyle a DEMOCRAT raided the transportation fund.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.