Monday, December 5th, 2016

Tom “Pave It Black” Barrett?

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While claiming he would end the raids on the state transportation fund, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s campaign let loose this whopper the other day:

Tom Barrett has long fought for a balanced, multi-modal approach to transportation that invests in infrastructure to create jobs and move people and commerce. As mayor, he supported the reconstruction of the Marquette Interchanges, the Zoo Interchange and the I-94 North-South Corridor.

Somebody tell Jim Rowen it’s okay. Barrett was only kidding. He’s not really in favor of reconstructing the Zoo Interchange. After all, as Aaron Rodriguez pointed out last March during the emergency repairs of the bridges in the Zoo Interchange, Barrett actually did his best to stop the necessary reconstruction.

The Zoo Interchange plays host to 350,000 vehicles per day making it the most important artery of commuting in the state.  In contrast, the high speed rail project envisioned by Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett wouldn’t see 350,000 travelers in an entire year.  Some wonder if these politicians have their priorities in the right place.

Instead of fixing the interchange earlier as originally planned in the 90s and then in 2005, now the state must spend an additional $15 million to build a temporary bridge that will be torn down later.  And instead of committing to a $810 million federal program for a high speed rail project that would reduce traffic on our highways by less than 1%, Doyle and Barrett should have been concerned about roads used by 99% of those who commute everyday.  Someone is at fault for this 15 million dollar debacle, and it won’t take long before people realize who is at fault.

Why Didn’t the Zoo Interchange Get a Face-lift Earlier?

In April of 2003, a study confirmed that both I-94 and the Zoo Interchange needed reconstruction.  In 2005, the state legislature sent a $38 million appropriation to Governor Doyle’s desk highlighting the importance of maintaining the busiest interchange in the state.  Doyle vetoed most of the measure and had the DOT issue a statement stating they will revisit the Zoo Interchange in “due time”.

Why did Doyle veto the measure?  Doyle was under significant political pressure from forces in Milwaukee.  Among them was Mayor Tom Barrett who wrote a letter to the legislature telling them that the “Zoo Interchange will stand long enough for us to resolve these issues.”

Let’s remember the real Tom Barrett record on the Zoo Interchange, shall we?

State Senator Ted Kanavas wrote in November 2009,

On June 28, 2005, Mayor Barrett wrote a letter to former Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz and former Senate Minority Leader Judy Robson in opposition to funding the preliminary engineering for the Zoo Interchange. Demonstrating Barrett’s lack of judgment he stated:

‘…the Zoo Interchange will stand long enough for us to resolve these issues.’

The letter was so fraught with errors and misstatements the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission responded with its own letter to legislative leaders indicating a number of Mayor Barrett’s statements were ‘without foundation.’

Then on July 21, 2005, Mayor Barrett issued a statement praising Governor Doyle’s partial veto of Zoo Interchange money and took a political shot at Waukesha County in the process:

‘Governor Doyle took the appropriate action in vetoing the Legislature’s $38 million appropriation for the Zoo Interchange. The funding was excessive and the message it sent, divisive. I thank Governor Doyle for recognizing that Milwaukee-Waukesha regional cooperation is not a one-way street.’

So Barrett wrote a letter to legislative leadership in opposition to funding the preliminary engineering for work on the Zoo Interchange. He praised Governor Jim Doyle for vetoing the appropriation for the preliminary engineering for work on the Zoo Interchange. And instead of pushing for work on the real transportation priorities of this state, Barrett pushed instead for a modified light rail system for the East Side of Milwaukee and a high speed train from Milwaukee to Madison that nobody wants, all while never uttering a peep of protest over the raids on the state transportation fund before.

That’s what Barrett calls supporting the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange. As WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes would say, that’s just a big load of steaming PolitiCrap.

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