Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Good and ugly

The quick-don't-read-it state budget is out, and its transportation component has some good and some real ugly stuff. The good: a desperately needed boost in funding for the Milwaukee County Transit System and a prohibition on freeway expansion adjacent to historic Wood National Cemetery. (The Republican take on expanding this stretch of freeway has been 'We respect our veterans so much we will hang freeway lanes in the air directly above their graves.')

The ugly: Approving expansion of North-South I-94 and the Zoo Interchange before there are budgets or studies completed or funding sources identified for either of the reconstruction projects. The Zoo Interchange studies have barely even begun.

Let's change that around just a little bit and try to imagine the state agreeing to agree to build a huge light rail project even though we don't know what it will cost, how it will be funded, or what the environmental impacts will be.

It would never happen.

These advance expansion approvals are some of the most fiscally irresponsible actions Doyle and the legislature have taken in a long time. Another transportation expenditure in the budget comes pretty damned close, though. There is a nice $182 million for starting reconstruction of North-South I-94. Isn't it nice of the legislature to commit the state to this project before telling us what the total price tag will be?

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