Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Diverting traffic through monkey island

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The only thing more frustrating than road construction in the Zoo Interchange is knowing that in a few years they are going to have to do the whole thing all over again. In this week’s article for the MacIver Institute, I write about the Zoo Interchange and how we got to the point where we are building bridges just to tear them down again.

Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation is about to make it even more frustrating. Because three of the bridges in the Zoo Interchange are deteriorating so rapidly, they need to be replaced right away at a cost of $12 million to $22 million. That will be frustrating enough. But imagine how frustrating it will be to see those newly reconstructed bridges torn down and replaced at taxpayer expense just a few years later. That’s not hyperbole. That’s reality.

The Zoo Interchange serves more than 350,000 vehicles per day. It is where I-94 meets Hwy 45 and I-894 in western Milwaukee County. The interchange is not sufficient for the traffic it has now and needs to be rebuilt.

Rebuilding the interchange is costly, with a final price tag of more than $2.3 billion. It is also politically unpopular with environmentalists and some others Milwaukee County. Nearly three dozen homes and businesses will have to be razed so that the new road can handle the increased traffic capacity.

Milwaukee news outlets have reported that there are two to five times as many accidents on the Interchange as the average city highway. If the project is delayed another eight years while waiting for the north-south corridor on I-94 to be completed, we’ve been told we can expect an additional 3,300 crashes during that time, totaling more than $75 million, more than 1,000 additional injuries and seven more traffic deaths.

Now, the interchange is crumbling and the DOT is forced to implement an emergency, short-term fix.

It needn’t have come to this.

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