PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

Not Letting A Good Crisis Go To Waste – The Hoan Bridge Version

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on July 9, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

The Hoan Bridge has hit crisis mode.  While politicians in Madison dither about on whether to fix it or replace it with a lower bridge or some other solution, chunks of it have been falling off.

The State’s temporary solution, which is really no solution at all, is to put nets under the bridge to catch the falling chunks of concrete.

Needless to say, this has gotten some of the local pols, like Supervisor Pat Jursik hopping mad.  I can’t say that I blame them, since this is become a major liability that needs immediate attention.

State Senator Jeff Plale and State Representative Chris Sinicki issued their own solution, which was to divert some of the money that is to go to the high speed rail system for the purpose of re-decking the bridge.

This is a false and blatantly political stunt.  To have that money diverted would require an act of Congress and approval by President Obama, which is not likely to happen.  These two should know this, which makes their antics even more disturbing.  Instead of real solutions, we get something that sounds like it came from talk radio.

Plale’s primary challenger, Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson, issued his own press release to Plale’s foolishness, which reads in part:

“People in Milwaukee County have waited far too long to see the Hoan Bridge re-decked. Now, our legislators are turning a real problem into a political stunt instead of finding a real, viable solution.  Netting and far-fetched schemes are a joke, not the answer. It was bad enough when the DOT studied tearing down an artery that families in my neighborhood use everyday – now, legislators are trying to grab headlines with a scheme that would require a sign-off by the President of the United States, Congress, the Governor, and the State legislature.  You’d have a better chance at solving the problem using the money the Brewers had to pay Jeff Suppan to stop pitching.  It’s not going to happen.

Unfortunately, no where amidst that frustration and outrage is a solution from Larson, which is about as useful as Plale’s and Sinicki’s non-solution.

Tom Barrett advocated for fixing the bridge, using a windfall that the state received:

On the Barrett proposal, the DOT has a plan to spend the $105 million, and none of it is directed to repairs for the Hoan. Most of the money, roughly $97.8 million, would be used to pay for current projects and free up state dollars for additional projects in the next fiscal year.

That plan is now pending before the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

So far, this is the closest to a sensible and viable plan of any offered.  I would suspect that Barrett and his people are already in contact with members of the JFC to try to swing that money towards the Hoan, since he is running for governor, and that would help him get some votes from the Southeastern Milwaukee County suburbs, which has a fair share of independent and conservative voters.

And, for anyone wondering, the best that I can tell, Scott Walker said he agreed the bridge should be saved, but has offered no solutions himself.  Perhaps it is because he is too busy wondering which one of his buildings will fall down next.

For the record, I still don’t see why the bridge shouldn’t be torn down, for the same reasons.  The convenience of a small part of Milwaukee County does not justify that kind of expenditure when there are so many other needs that are more important to a larger number of people.

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