Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pothole hell

Fixing potholes is one of the more mundane aspects of local government. Suddenly, because Milwaukee streets are so old and because city residents are unwilling or unable to pay the very high special assessments for street reconstruction the city levies and because of the weird weather we've been having and because of difficult city budgets, potholes are big and potholes are big news.

Municipalities -- especially older ones -- are rather trapped on this one. Their streets are the oldest and most in need of repair; state-imposed property tax limits reduce communities' ability to raise revenue; and the state continues to reduce, in real terms, the money it gives to cities to deal with local road issues.

Instead, the state is pouring money into freeway expansion projects like the North-South I-94 fiasco. By the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's own admission, the unfunded $1.9 billion-plus-hundreds-of-millions-in-interest-costs will provide minimal traffic improvement and will likely hurt efforts to redevelop Milwaukee's aging commercial corridors.

So when you break an axle, a bicycle, a motorcycle or some bones trying to get to that big freeway that doesn't do much for anybody except cost them money, please remember to thank the Wisconsin Department of Transportation!


Dave said...

Agreed I had argued they should rebuild I94 but not expand and use the extra $200 Million for KRM but who knows maybe that should be put into a local roads fund.

Anonymous said...

Where do you start with this slow motion diaster? I voted for the guy like a lot of you, but John Norquist did no favors to applying reality to road maintance, he played a shell game of lenghting repair/replace schedules so far out that we are at this point today. Also, you can't discount Human stupidity, the City is sub-contracting repairs to the lowest bidder, guess what you often get besides the lowest price? Yes, incompentence. Last night I responded to 78th and Mt. Vernon for a water leak at 2am, the "Contractor" Had damaged the underground wate pipe while digging a trench, what I saw was 3,000-5,000 gallons per minute of water making a giant sinkhole under his crane, and all the neighbors basements filling with sewage! We left before it actually fell in but if you want to see a waste of money in action go check that out (one block South of Bluemound). John