Alderman Bauman praises attempted emergency brake on I-94 expansion
April 9, 2009
Alderman Agrees That Spending $200 Million to Expand Lanes of I-94 South to Illinois Imprudent & Should be Used to Fix Local Streets
The Common Council and Milwaukee legislators and residents should rally around proposed state legislation to halt the expansion of I-94 between Milwaukee and the Illinois state line, Alderman Robert J. Bauman said today.
Referring to state Sen. Tim Carpenter’s announcement Tuesday that he plans to introduce state legislation barring the state Department of Transportation from expanding I-94 from six to eight lanes in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties, Alderman Bauman said such a bill deserves serious consideration and should be passed. “The plan to use $200 million of the project cost to expand I-94 lanes is a massive waste of money during tough economic times that could and should be used instead to fix local streets and create job opportunities here,” Alderman Bauman said, adding that he does not disagree with Carpenter’s contention that the reconstruction of I-94 (without the added lanes) is needed.
Of the plan to add an extra lane in each direction, he said: “I wholeheartedly applaud Senator Carpenter for his attempt to put an emergency brake on a $200 million boondoggle that does nothing to help Milwaukee and most state residents,” he said.
Alderman Bauman, chair of the Common Council’s Public Works Committee, noted that the Council adopted a “Fix it First” policy clearly stating that local street repair needs should come first, and that expanding highway capacity in southeast Wisconsin should take a back seat until repairs are made to existing local roads, streets and bridges. “The only way we elected officials can try to change misguided funding priorities at the state and federal levels is to work together and provide a unified message,” he said.
Emergency Brake Attempt
The Common Council has taken several steps to advance the “Fix it First” agenda, including opposing the $200 million expansion of I-94 lanes from Milwaukee to the Illinois state line, expressing concern over the multi-million dollar proposed expansion of the Zoo Interchange which would increase lane miles in the interchange by 53% (from 86 miles to 132 miles), lobbying state and federal elected officials to adopt a “fix it first” policy for highway spending in the 2009-2010 state budget and in the federal transportation authorization bill, and asking state and federal transportation officials to direct federal stimulus funds to Milwaukee for local street replacement and reconstruction.
The dire situation facing Milwaukee’s streets and bridges is outlined in a Comptroller’s Office audit report of the residential street paving program, released in December. The report states that 214 miles (approx. 20% of the city’s streets) are in “poor” condition and require “immediate replacement.” Other audit findings included:
• Milwaukee has a total of 1,415 miles of roadway of which 1,024 miles are local residential streets (the others are state highways, arterials and collectors).
• 214 miles of local streets (21%) are in poor condition; 448 miles (43%) are in fair condition; and 361 miles (35%) are in good condition.
• The average age of local streets is 41.7 years.
• The average life of a local street is 50 years.
• The average cost to replace a mile of local street is $910,000.
• The current replacement cycle for local streets is 106 years.
• City budgets have underfunded local street replacement/reconstruction for at least two decades.
• The 2009 city budget appropriated $10.3 Million for local street reconstruction/replacement.
• The city would need to appropriate approximately $25.5 Million per year to achieve a 1:1 ratio of service life to replacement cycle (replacement of 28 miles of local streets per year).
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