Fix the Hoan!

August 1, 2010

Last year Wisconsin won a major grant of federal stimulus money for a high-speed rail link between Milwaukee and Madison. The enormous positive impact of this $810 million investment by Washington in our regional economy shouldn’t be underestimated. The money is unquestionably a financial win for Wisconsin taxpayers, but it does raise a question of priorities in Washington, D.C. for the thousands of commuters who drive back and forth across the Hoan Bridge daily.

However great the need for the rail link between Milwaukee and Madison, the need for real repairs, not just patches, to the Hoan Bridge is immediate.

It’s important that we fix our existing infrastructure and demonstrate responsible stewardship of our current assets, even if we do have another big new project on the schedule. Our officials did well in winning the federal rail money, but that project was considered before we knew extra netting must be hung under the bridge and that repair needs were urgent.

In light of recent developments, I appreciate that Congresswoman Gwen Moore has identified potential funds that might possibly be tapped for true redecking of the bridge.

Even with this possibility, it remains to be seen whether our state Department of Transportation (DOT) will admit that the roadbed of the Hoan, a heavily traveled roadway, needs to be reconstructed, not just patched up like any ground-level road. They need to understand that this needs to happen now, not years after the next gubernatorial administration, along with Milwaukee Manufacturers and Commerce (MMAC), decide what they think is the best thing to do with the Hoan.

Obviously WisDOT officials, the governor’s staff, and probably most MMAC members, do not use the Hoan daily in their commute to and from work. Maybe they should start listening to the thousands and thousands of drivers who do, every day, so they can get it right, now.

Chris Sinicki is the state representative for Wisconsin’s 20th state Assembly District, which includes southern Bay View, St. Francis, Cudahy, the airport, and other parts of the south side. Her website is chrissinicki.net and she can be reached at (888) 534-0020 or rep.sinicki@legis.wi.gov.


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