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  • Quality of Life Alliance

Breaking News: Man In Glass House Throws Stones

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on March 28, 2010

By now, almost everyone in the Milwaukee area, if not the entire Midwest, knows about the State closing down one of the bridges in the Zoo Interchange.

Being ever the opportunist, Scott Walker jumped all over the news and quickly attacked, blaming the whole thing on Governor Jim Doyle and Mayor Tom Barrett. I’ll give his team credit, they moved fast and the “Barrett Bypass” does kind of work for them.

Barrett’s campaign came back swinging, pointing out that Walker had cut millions of dollars from the funding for roads while he was in the state legislature.

WISN-TV has pretty good coverage of the sniping and counter-sniping that is going on, with this interesting bit:

Walker is calling the interchange the “Barrett Bypass,” putting blame on the Milwaukee mayor.

“To me this bypass from this point forward should be the ‘Barrett Bypass’ because he and Jim Doyle put political pressure ahead of engineering and now we’re suffering from that,” said Walker.

“It’s going to cost us jobs, certainly headaches for commuters, but it’s one that’s really about commerce here and across the state of Wisconsin,” said Walker.

“I understand he wants to play political games with this,” Barrett said. “I understand how that works.”

Barrett says he’s always supported reconstruction of the zoo interchange, but had to consider the possibility of ripping up neighborhoods.

“I think what he doesn’t point out is that he voted against transportation funding, but I’ve always supported reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange. I support it now and I’ve supported it years ago,” Barrett said.

The piece goes on to say that Walker is adding the money that is being spent on the high speed rail could’ve gone to the interchange instead. That line of attack is rather weak since the money is coming from the federal government for the purpose of high rail, not just general transportation costs.

I also have to say it is kind of funny how all sides, Mark Neumann included, have already started it in their Google ad wars.

But I have to wonder if this is the smartest hill for Walker to fight over.

Walker’s record on maintenance, on roads and on transportation is not exactly a strong suit for him.

Milwaukee County’s infrastructure is literally falling down around us and the parks alone have $238 million in needed repairs and maintenance. Valuable assets like the greenhouses and historic landmarks like the Eschweiler Buildings show the obvious results of Walker’s neglect.

Walker’s records on maintaining county roads is not any better. In fact, his track record on that is so bad that even one of his main supporters, Orville Seymour of CRG fame, was complaining about how bad the roads were.

Transportation is not one of Walker’s high points either. In his 2010 budget, like he has done every other year, Walker continued his pattern of slashing routes and raising fares for the Milwaukee County Transit System. This has had the predictable outcome of causing ridership to drop like a rock and twice the national average.

I wonder how many commuters facing a north-south commute would have considered taking a bus instead of being rerouted all over the place or getting stuck in Hwy 100 traffic which was very heavy before the interchange closed.

See also Illy-T, who has some sound advice for commuters.

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