Thursday, November 6, 2008

Enough With the Roads!

This reporter in Madison seems to get it.

This is a highway-heavy road budget, as anti-green as it gets. And when I say anti-green, I'm not necessarily talking about the tree-hugging kind. This budget is bad for our economy. The emphasis on cul-de-sacs, cars and sprawl sets us up for broken budgets forever.

Already, Madison spends millions of dollars a year maintaining the overbuilt roads of yesteryear. If implemented, the mayor's budget would hardwire us to spiraling transportation costs for years to come.

The capital budget defines the urban landscape. Will ours be welcoming to pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and cars? Or just cars?


Tom Bozzo said...

As a Madisonian, I had a major WTF moment when I saw that story yesterday. However, after taking a look at the actual budget documents, I think the author of the article (which is an op-ed, not news reporting) is being a bit disingenuous.

The biggest component of the 2009 increase is the final phase of a multi-year project to rebuild a major arterial street. That project did represent a lost opportunity to get a light rail or streetcar route segment built at low incremental cost on a heavy-traffic commuter route; alas the planning phase was in the cheap oil years and neither the State nor the Federal DOTs are exactly transit-friendly (of course). The project at least did incorporate big improvements in bike accommodations.

The other big dollar projects are not, for the most part, highway expansions in sprawl areas but rather reconstructions of some major arteries just outside the central Isthmus area which are currently noteworthy for being in terrible states of repair and for their lack of accommodation for anything but cars. In addition to the project mentioned above, recent major-street reconstruction in Madison has brought about some huge improvements in bike accommodations in particular.

M said...

Speaking as a journalist myself, I have to say I was intrigued that you'd come across a journalist with the level of analysis and ability to challenge that the excerpt you quoted implied. Unfortunately, read it through and you see the author is "Michael D. Barrett . . . an energy efficiency and neighborhood plan analyst with UrbanThoreau LLC." Not a journalist - probably a lawyer. Great work with the blog!