Friday, January 5, 2018

Walker DOT throws money at Foxconn roads while Madison Beltline buckles with high traffic

Sometimes all you need to do is check the stories that pass through The Wheeler Report in a given week, and it paints a pretty clear picture on the direction Wisconsin is going. (and if you’re not reading The Wheeler Report, you need to).

This time the topic is on highway work, and how not only is Madison’s main freeway not getting the work that its traffic demands, but the state has stopped looking into how to deal with that clogged freeway.
Questions are dogging the future of a state study into what long-term improvements may be needed for the Madison Beltline.

As the aging, increasingly congested main artery for the state’s fastest-growing urban area, advocates say the Beltline may need such improvements in years to come. It also has crash rates, on some stretches, more than double state averages for similar freeways.

But federal transportation officials last year urged the state Department of Transportation to hit the brakes on the Beltline study, saying other projects are further along and should advance first.

The state budget enacted in September didn’t provide a revenue infusion for transportation, leaving such funds in short supply through 2019 — and causing Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to curtail its road-building ambitions.

That’s causing some to predict work on the Beltline study could be slowed or ended altogether.
In that same article, Road Builders spokesman Craig Thompson notes that no work on improving the Beltline will happen until the state figures out a way to add more money to the Transportation Fund, and keep it funded. And that won’t change as long as Scott Walker is governor and is more concerned with kissing up to DC lobbyist Grover Norquist over the infrastructure needs of Wisconsin.

With that background in mind, check out this story from Friday.
Severe buckling in the road on the Beltline in Madison led police to close two eastbound lanes Thursday night, police said.

Potholes and chunks of concrete on the road cause several flat tires and damaged a package delivery truck around 8:30 p.m., Sgt. David Compton said. The damage covers a stretch of the Beltline over Stoughton Road.

Cold weather caused the Beltline to buckle Thursday morning as well on the westbound lanes, which led to a crash involving several vehicles, according to the Dane County Sheriff's office.

Meanwhile, heading into rush hour on Friday morning, a crash closed the westbound ramp off the Beltline at Rimrock Road. Motorists were advised to use John Nolen Drive until the Rimrock ramp could be re-opened.

More cars, same road = more of this

But I’m not seeing a big rush from our state government to send money to improve the Beltline, despite its needs to deal with increased congestion and upkeep.

Now contrast that situation with this story in the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel from yesterday.
The first major construction work tied to the planned development of Foxconn Technology Group begins Monday with upgrades to frontage roads along a section of I-94 in Racine County.

The state Department of Transportation announced on Thursday the start of reconstruction of the east and west frontage roads along the interstate between state Highway 20 on the north and county Highway KR on the south.

The work will affect about two miles of the frontage roads. Highway KR divides Racine and Kenosha counties.

The DOT said utility work has already started taking place in the area.
It’s especially noteworthy to see the Foxconn work be given the fast track when you realize that the Walker Administration has taken years to complete the Beltline-Verona Road interchange in SW Madison. That interchange happens to carry increasing amounts of people heading to the largest private sector employer in Dane County- Epic Systems, a homegrown business run by Judy Faulkner.

Wisconsin born and raised. And didn't need $4 bil in tax dollars.

Faulkner has avidly opposed Walker policies and his buddies at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. In particular, she is strongly opposed to WMC’s regressive ideas on business growth, resulting this situation from 10 years ago.
The unabashed liberal sensibility of Epic System's Judy Faulkner became even more pronounced this week as her fast-growing software company -- normally a publicity-shy operation -- issued a public condemnation of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

Blaming WMC's politicking for the "travesty of ethics" in this spring's state Supreme Court race, Epic's management announced that it would "try to work only with vendors that do not support WMC with its current management."

That policy decision apparently prompted J.P. Cullen & Sons, the Janesville-based contractor of Epic's ongoing campus expansion in Verona, to drop its membership in WMC and for its president and CEO David Cullen to resign from the WMC board of directors.
I’m not saying that the tax dollars getting funneled into Foxconn and away from the real job creators in Madison aren’t connected, but it certain makes the choices of Walker and his DOT quite interesting, no? Especially since Walker’s economic policy seems to based on one main consideration- who gave me money, or who might donate to me in the future?

A responsible governor would observe the needs of Wisconsin communities that are actually growing and attracting talent, and see if some resources should be used to help the problems that result from growth. Instead, Walker has chosen throw billions at a foreign country with a history of going back on their word, and wrecking the environment in the process.

And you wonder why the state has been in the bottom half of job growth fort the US, even with the booming economy in “anti-business” liberal Madison?

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