Seriously? $34 million for this? Just to move a couple of ramps a few hundred feet?
The deal is months in the making, as city, county and state officials negotiated to redesign the Lake Interchange and local roads as part of the broader effort to revitalize the lakefront. It will affect developer Rick Barrett’s proposed Couture high-rise, Irgens’ planned 833 office building and Northwestern Mutual’s planned new downtown office, all of which would be built in the downtown lakefront area.
The agreement is that, when the Lake Interchange is rebuilt in 2016, two ramps that currently connect to North Lincoln Memorial Drive will shift to the south, depositing drivers near North Harbor Drive at the doorstep to the Summerfest grounds. The move opens land south of East Clybourn Street for new development that is envisioned to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
I take it that Walker has the state budget squared away like he claims to have. Well, no. He wants to borrow one billion dollars to pour into the transportation fund to pay off the road builders who donated so much money to his campaigns.
And I take it that Abele has rescued the Milwaukee County Transit System from the verge of collapse due to it not having a dedicated funding source. Again, no. If anything, he's squandered his time, energy and political clout on a temper tantrum than addressing this critical situation of a vital service.
Do I dare even ask if Barrett has taken care of the city's roads? Of course not. The city roads in Milwaukee are worse than they have ever been and the potholes have potholes. And to think, just one year ago, Barrett himself was saying how the state needed to divert funds to allow him to do some of the much needed repairs.
And who benefits from this idea?
Well, the already wealthy road builders who will use some of their lucre to again support Walker. Also, the already super wealthy that will use their share of the loot to support Walker, Abele and Barrett.
I also see that Michael Cudahy - one of Abele's friends on the Greater Milwaukee Committee - is real excited to see this happen. He should be. He has a lot of money invested in this area, including his restaurant, Harbor House, that would gain greatly by bringing Milwaukee's elite right to his doorstep. That's why he's been pushing for this for years, ever since he took over control of the land the restaurant sits on.
I can think of hundreds of different ways that money could be better spent on more pressing needs that would benefit many more people. But that wouldn't be what the special interests that support all three of these politicians want.
It's ironic that the supporters of this waste of taxpayer dollars are celebrating it as a result of bipartisan cooperation.
All I see are three corporatocrats paying back their benefactors.
But on the bright side, we can all rest assured that Milwaukee's 1% will be well taken care of.