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Mayoral Candidates on Freeway Expansion

Nine mayoral candidates were asked “As mayor, would you support or oppose SEWRPC’s proposed $6.5 billion freeway expansion and reconstruction project, and what action would you take based on your position?” Seven replied.

Tom Barrett www.barrettformayor.com

I oppose the SEWRPC plan. It is too costly and too limited. Curiously, there is no proposal for financing the project in the plan or supporting documents. That is not the way the public’s business should be conducted. The focus of the proposal is freeways. We have been told there will be a transit component, but, to date, there have been no transit plans presented for public comment. The “freeway only” approach ignores the transit issues many Milwaukee commuters confront on a daily basis. The proposal also fails to address land use and growth issues. From 1998-2002, approximately 5,000 acres of Waukesha County agricultural land were converted for residential, commercial, and industrial uses. In the entire seven-county SEWRPC region, almost 20,000 acres of agricultural land were sold for other uses. This trend shows no signs of abating – meaning that SEWRPC could be back in the future with an even more costly freeway plan. Freeway building is not a solution to sprawl. Comprehensive land use and transportation planning must proceed hand-in-hand. The city’s best interests are not served by a plan that calls for the demolition of homes and the destruction of neighborhoods. Our interests are not served by a plan that will provide an insignificant reduction in commute times and add more vehicles to the system. As mayor, I will fight to change the composition of the SEWRPC Board; the city must be represented. I will work with the Governor’s office, WISDOT, federal transportation officials, and my friends in Congress to ensure that our interests are protected and advanced. In addition, I will work closely with neighborhood groups and all other interested parties to find common ground on this issue. David Clarke www.clarke04.com Clarke officially launched his campaign just three days before this month’s question deadline. His campaign spokesperson, Jeremy Cole, wrote: “Please express from me our desire to participate in further voter education efforts through your publication. However, due to our recent entry and short notice we will have to wait til later in the campaign to address this particular question.” He also said, “This issue is extremely important to us. Our campaign fully plans on revealing our Transportation Plan in short order… However, at this time it will not be possible to discuss in great detail an issue so important as this one.” Frank Cumberbatch www.onemilwaukee.com

As Mayor I would support SEWRPC’s freeway expansion and reconstruction project under the following conditions: 1. The expansion helps the city, county and region become more competitive for jobs and economic growth. 2. After reviewing the project to see if it needs to be as expensive as proposed by SEWRPC, I conclude that the costs are appropriate. 3. The majority of workers come from the region, with a large amount of the workforce coming from Milwaukee’s central city. I am willing to work with Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and leaders from other municipalities to implement a freeway expansion plan that is beneficial to all concerned. I am also willing to explain to Milwaukee residents that in the short term this project will provide much needed jobs for our citizens and, in the long run, make Milwaukee much more competitive to attract even more jobs to the city. Sandy Folaron www.sandy4mayor.com

I would “loudly” oppose this ambitious expansion and reconstruction project. As mayor, I would use every resource I had to put forth a comprehensive transportation plan that does not promote urban sprawl, but rebuilds a system that is safe and serviceable to residents. Many cities comparable to Milwaukee do not rely on freeway expansion to move people in and out of the city expeditiously. Transportation alternatives need to be seriously considered in order to protect our neighborhoods, environment and property values. A plan that has neither a funding source nor the best interests of Milwaukee residents in mind has no merit. The question repeatedly asked and never answered is “who is paying for this and how?” Having lived in other cities I understand what congestion is! And it is not being slowed down 5 to 10 minutes on your way to work. That is an inconvenience, not congestion. If this city wants to move into the next decade of urban renewal and growth we need to understand all of our options. Mistakes made now will cost us much more in the long run. As President of the West End Vliet Street Business Association, we were among the first to voice our concerns over these issues. As members of CASH (Citizens Allied for Sane Highways) we encourage all residents to look closely at this proposal and understand it for what it really is. Martin Matson www.matsonformayor.com

I am opposed to the freeway expansion on three fronts: 1. The destruction of neighborhoods in the city of Milwaukee. Look what the freeways did to the city in the 1960’s. 2. The cost. There are no additional funds to pay for an expansion. The State is hard-pressed to come up with the funding for the reconstruction of the Marquette, which needs to be done. 3. The estimated time savings. 6 minutes? Drive the expressway at any other time than rush-hour. If you could still save six minutes you would have to be on Star-Trek and be “beamed” to your destination. My plan: 1. Create safe neighborhoods. People will move back to the city. 2. Expand public transportation. The government now subsidizes the automobile. We need to funnel some of those funds to expand our options. Most major cities in the United States have a transit system. With decent planning, private funding could be found too. 3. Fix the public schools. Yet another incentive for people to move back. All of these require more space to explain, so I would be happy to take inquiries. Tom Nardelli www.tomnardelli.com

There’s no getting away from the fact that the current freeway system was built in the 50s, 60s and 70s. I support SWRPC’s proposed freeway expansion and reconstruction plan to meet today’s design standards and to facilitate safer travel in southeast Wisconsin. In addition, a better freeway system will add to Milwaukee’s appeal as a dynamic and forward-thinking city and help us attract both residential and commercial development. Specifically, I fully support the redesign of both the Stadium and Marquette Interchanges. Due to the significant commerce that passes through these interchanges, redesign is necessary for safer truck traffic and for efficiently moving people into, out of and through the city on a daily basis. I would prefer that I-94 through the Story Park neighborhood be exempted from lane expansion. It is important that we heed the concerns of those taxpaying citizens whose neighborhoods would be destroyed by expanding the current lanes from six to eight. Nor should we disrupt any grave sites at Wood National Memorial Cemetery west of the Stadium Interchange. The cost of the freeway redesign and expansion project should be paid for with Federal and State funds. As Mayor, I would honor my commitment to holding the line on city spending, even ending the current practice of using city engineering employees, funded by your property taxes, to redesign roadways under WISDOT jurisdiction. Though the final decision is not the mayor’s to make, as mayor I would have a bully pulpit for voicing my opposition to the expansion of lanes along the Story Hill stretch of I-94 and reminding WisDOT of its responsibility to taxpayers whose homes are threatened. John Pitta www.pittaformayor2004.com

The mayor must fight for resources for Milwaukee. This project is going to happen. As mayor, it will be my job to make sure city residents get jobs from this massive construction project. We consistently have construction projects in Milwaukee where suburban workers complete the work. The mayor needs to advocate for more job opportunities and market these opportunities to city residents. The Marquette Interchange is a necessary project. Milwaukee and the state have already invested millions of dollars in relocating Aldrich Chemical jobs to a Teutonia Street facility. Rebuilding other parts of the Interstate is not necessary, especially in the Story Hill neighborhood. The mayor doesn’t have much power or authority in this area. I would advocate planning ahead with those residents and businesses that it would impact. I would fight to minimize the impact on their neighborhoods. I would fight for more creative public transportation. We need to create an interest in riding the bus by educating and encouraging young people to ride the bus. We need to find out what young people want on the bus. My ideas include various types of music, games, and wireless connections to attract more young and diverse riders. As mayor, my vision would include more bike riding. I would advocate expanding the UWM bike give-away program as a tool to improve the quality of life and conserve resources. I ride my bike to the lake daily and I would model this for the city and our children! See the mayoral candidates on October 18 at Lincoln Center of the Arts on East Knapp Street at 9:30 a.m, and at the WBMA/NAACP Mayoral Forum at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society, 2620 W. Center St. The primary election is Feb. 17; general election is April 6. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 10 – October 2003