FREEWAY DECISION MUST BENEFIT MAJORITY
EVERY STEP TOWARD EXPANSION WILL BE A BATTLE
Our freeways need to be rebuilt from the ground up. All of them.
The Marquette Interchange project is nearing completion. I think many of us would agree the redesign and rebuild went smoother than we anticipated. It's been a pain, but by no means a disaster.
That sort of rebuilding needs to occur throughout Southeast Wisconsin's entire freeway system. Most of it was built in the 60's and designed to last 40 years. I'm not real good at math, but I guess we're nearing the end.
DOT officials announced the rebuilding of the State's busiest interchange may require them to claim 20 homes. In the coming weeks and beyond, you'll see a lot of stories on our news about all the people who don't want that to happen. They will include, no doubt, some of those home owners who will have to leave their homes. They will also include people who generally oppose any freeway expansion. Some will shout at public hearings. Some will hold signs. Some will stage protests and demonstrations.
They represent a legitimate point of view, and have every right to be heard. That's why we have hearings.
I'm bringing it up, because when you see that, I also want you to note that you probably won't see the drivers of the estimated 324,700 vehicles that use the zoo interchange every single day. The hundreds of thousands who desire a safer, and in some cases expanded interchange, will be sorely under-represented.
These are stories we in the media often have trouble fairly depicting. People who are vehemently against something, holding signs, staging protests, and shouting slogans make far better T.V. than the silent majority who often support it. The "against it" crowd is aggressive in getting its message out. It's well represented, and well organized. It often appears, then, that the overwhelming sentiment is "no," even when that's not necessarily the case.
Just a little perspective as we examine the proposals for this interchange, and all the other freeway projects soon to come in Southeast Wisconsin. There's a lot riding on the decisions we make now. They will determine our transportation destiny for decades to come.
There is only one thing about which there is no disagreement. The freeways we built a half century ago are decaying. A fix in some form is required, and the process is already underway.