CASH applauds DOT response to flawed SEWRPC process

CASH applauds DOT response to flawed SEWRPC process Calls again for new study Oct. 15 — The Wisconsin Department of Transportation deserves credit for recognizing and trying to correct fundamental flaws in the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission’s freeway study process, Citizens Allied for Sane Highways said Wednesday. “It’s great, but it’s too late to fix the mess that SEWRPC made in forgetting about poor people, disabled people, children and even neighborhoods when it pushed the road builders’ agenda,” said CASH co-chair Robert Trimmier. CASH is a coalition formed to oppose freeway expansion in Milwaukee. The department announced this week that it would create a new bureau to better address civil rights and community impact analyses. DOT said, among other things, that the bureau would ensure diverse populations are involved in the planning highway improvement projects. Department officials, in discussing the need for the reorganization, specifically cited problems that arose from the SEWRPC study. SEWRPC did not even translate documents related to its unfunded $6.25 billion freeway expansion plan into Spanish until after the official public comment period on it was closed. The agency did not consult with affected neighborhoods, residents, businesses or municipalities in the development of its plan. DOT hired SEWRPC to conduct the study. “We hope DOT is sincere in wanting to actually listen to communities affected by transportation projects ” said CASH co-chair Gretchen Schuldt. “We are a little concerned that DOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi was a member of the SEWRPC freeway advisory committee that did its job so badly, but we are hopeful that he’s learned from the experience.” Both Trimmier and Schuldt said DOT’s move confirmed CASH’s long-held position that the SEWRPC study was fundamentally flawed. The freeway issue should be re-examined by another agency, they said. Schuldt said the coalition would examine the new bureau’s budget and staffing plan carefully. “We just want to make sure that DOT is providing enough resources to the new bureau so it can do everything it is supposed to do. At this point, we’re not willing to take DOT’s word for it.”