Trade I-94 lanes for rail lines

Monday, December 03, 2007

From an article by Sean Ryan in The Daily Reporter:

Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman wants to rebuild Interstate 94 without additional lanes, and use the $200 million in savings for public rail projects.

Bauman pointed out the opposition to creating new car-rental or sales taxes to pay for the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail line, but said he saw little reaction to the state’s plan to spend $1.9 billion rebuilding and expanding I-94 between Milwaukee and the state line.

His metaphor was that highway projects feast atop a high altar, and transit projects for rail and buses scurry on the ground below, picking up scraps.

“I’m just trying to get the debate going,” Bauman said. “Highways are like they’re in a sacred place. You never question it. You never consider it in conjunction with other projects.”

Bauman’s proposal is to spend $1.7 billion rebuilding I-94 with six lanes and safety improvements. The savings generated by not widening the highway to eight lanes could be invested in the KRM rail project or to run high-speed trains between Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. The city’s Public Works Committee, which Bauman chairs, will consider the proposal on Wednesday.

Through his spokesman Phillip Walzak, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said it is an interesting proposal worthy of investigation, and that the community needs to improve its investment in public and mass transit.


BobbyG said...

I heartily agree with Ald. Bauman's proposal. It is my hope we could see something like this develop along the Highway 51/I-39 corridor running from Portage, WI all the way to Wausau, or beyond for the "Upnorth" tourist trade.

The money will have to come from somewhere, however. It is time to start earmarking transportation funds for rail projects, renewably-fueled, and to start de-earmarking funds for new highway projects. Let's finish the ones which have been commenced, without starting new ones.

Bobby Gifford
Stevens Point