Monday, December 05, 2005

Outstate Highways?

Some bloggers (KEVIN!!) are mildly complaining that 'all the highway money' goes into the SE corner of Wisconsin.

Besides the fact that Hy. 41 north of Kakauna, Hy. 57 north of Green Bay, and Hy. 151 west of Madistan have had large-dollar expenditures recently, there's another good question here: where does the traffic actually ride?

Answer: SE Wisconsin. Long after Sheboygan, Green Bay, and Wausau have rolled up their sidewalks and highways, Milwaukee's I-94 is going strong--try 10 or 11 PM--or try between 5:30 AM and 9:30 AM--or 11:00 AM through 2:30 PM--or anytime after 3:30 PM.

The corridor between Chicago and Milwaukee, then either west to the Twin Cities or north to the UP, is solid with traffic virtually 24x7--unlike the 4-block "action" stretch of the Mason Street Bridge, or the path into Sheboygan.

Residents of the Greater Milwaukee area listen to the hum of Macks and Freightliners moving product from the paper mills and porcelain factories all day and all night without (much) complaint, recognizing that our outstate neighbors and fellow taxpayers MUST be able to ship their product to the civilized world.

Can the allocation of tax dollars be unfair? You bet! The way for the outstate folks to solve it, of course, is to have more children, thereby increasing their representation vis-a-vis SE Wisconsin in the Legislature.

Get busy!


M.Z. said...

Additionally, you have to evaluate what supports commerce and what doesn't. Truth be told, a tollway could easily be supported for I-94 in its entirety. I-90 in its entirety would most likely be self supporting. Commuter routes such as 151 and 57 are generally not self supporting. In the long run, we can't continue to subsidize commuter routes into suburbia. Yes they pay gas taxes, but the routes are not self sufficient.

Other governments have figured this out. Chicago has sold the skyway. Toronto has sold its bypass. Texas is exploring allowing a private company to build a major north-south route to alleviate I-39 congestion. As we look to replace more concrete, this is a route that will need to be explored.

Jib said...

As I mention in the comments to Kevin's post, having lived in SE Wisconsin and "outstate", I'm a little torn on this because so much commerce does move through the state's two biggest cities, Madison and Milwaukee. At the same time, though, Dad29, there is more economic actvity going on in this state than just Madison & Milwaukee. I'm going to give you the example I'm most familiar with, the Chippewa Valley. Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls have been a major economic crossroads for the state for some time now. In these two cities the Highway 29 corridor which connects Green Bay to I-94 and the Twin Cities, the Highway 53 corridor which connects Duluth-Superior to I-94 and points south, and the I-94 corridor all meet. 53 and 29 have needed alternatives for as long as I can remember. Traffic in Chippewa Falls on Highway 29 and in Eau Claire along 53 have been terribly snarled messes for at least 15 to 20 years. Because of this emphasis on SE Wisconsin, both projects are only now being worked on. And this isn't a case of us v. them. Much of the same commerce traffic that moves through the Chippewa Valley either came from or is going to Milwaukee-Madison. So why would you make sure that traffic can move through Madison-Milwaukee efficiently but the snarl it up in other parts of the state?

I wish I could give you examples in other parts of the state, but that is the one I am most familiar with. But it doesn't change the fact that state politicians don't always use the road funding for the best interests of the state, but for their own election goals. And you are right, SE Wisconsin has the electoral strength in this state. But might doesn't always make right.

Dad29 said...

Kevin, "traffic tangles" compared to what? Is the Hy 29 mess NEAR the 'tangle' of I-94 at rush hour in Milwaukee?

Look, I understand the commerce angle. But we've simply overspent on roads (see my post of Lasee's figures...)

The issue is NOT North vs. South. The issue is the MORAL RESPONSIBILITY of the Legislature to VOTE ON TAXES!!

Kevin said...


You're seeing things. I'm finally commenting now.


Dad29 said...

Here's what I see, Kevin: Wisconsin is 3rd in the country with gasoline taxes and 4th overall for state/local taxation.

With all of that, our roads are simply no better than the roads in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Washington State, Utah, or Colorado (and I've driven in ALL those States.)

Who the hell are these people trying to kid? As long as there are cars and trucks, there WILL be 'traffic tangles.'