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Home / Government / Legislators ask for rail money to repair Hoan Bridge (UPDATE)

Legislators ask for rail money to repair Hoan Bridge (UPDATE)

State Rep. Christine Sinicki and state Sen. Jeff Plale are requesting money earmarked for high-speed rail or from other federal sources to re-deck the Hoan Bridge. (File Photo by Dustin Safranek)

State Rep. Christine Sinicki and state Sen. Jeff Plale are requesting money earmarked for high-speed rail to re-deck the Hoan Bridge. (File Photo by Dustin Safranek)

By Paul Snyder

State Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, and state Sen. Jeff Plale, D-South Milwaukee, sent a letter Wednesday to federal officials asking for money to stabilize safety issues on the Hoan Bridge.

The bridge recently required attention to catch falling debris and Sinicki and Plale have asked for $250 million to be diverted from the more than $800 million Wisconsin received to build high-speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison, Sinicki said.

“I don’t think it’s going to kill the high-speed rail project, but it’s going to delay it,” she said. “But we’ve waited 15 years for that. I think we can wait a couple more years. Frankly, I think this is a much higher priority.

“Chunks are coming off the bridge, and people are worried,” Sinicki added. “We don’t want another situation like what happened in Minnesota.”

In 2007, the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 people.

Sinicki also said the lack of available transportation money means the state needs to discuss new forms of transportation financing when it returns to session in January.

“We need to shore up our budgets that support infrastructure,” she said.

The legislators sent the letter to U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Dave Obey.

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  1. The Hoan Bridge is a lifeline to the entire southside. Our idiot governor and his cronies in the transportation department are LITERALLY gambling with the lives of their constituants in their hopes that the bridge will suffer a catasrophic failure requiring that it be torn down so they can replace it with a surface street and a series of roundabouts that will choke to a standstill with traffic. This is beyond ridiculous and borders on criminal. FIX THE BRIDGE YOU JERKS!!!

  2. Only if we can get some highway money diverted over to start the long-promised (since 1980!) KRM Line.

  3. While I sympathize with users of the Hoan, I believe the road is not used to full capacity but would be with a biking and walking trail on that bridge.

    Such a path would attract visitors from all over the Midwest. Nothing in the Midwest compares to the potential of a gorgeous ride over the “top” of a city, with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the string of parks along our shore. Chicago has a wonderful single day in the year you may bike on the Lake Drive, ground level. The views from on top in Chicago are pretty much the dominion of the wealthy. Our socialist roots keep Milwaukee more down to earth, sometimes retro, but the idea of a ride on the Hoan has brightened the imagination of many. It’s time has come. Bringing tourists to our city will increase our tax revenue and enhance the value of living in the city as folk learn of our great parks, still safe after the most severe assault by private interests in generations.

    As for taking rail money to fix the Hoan; it makes as much sense as taking money from health care, from schools, from job investments, from all the development that will happen with a well designed fast train between Madison and Chicago with Milwaukee in the middle of this modern investment. If you want to fix roads, then let’s pay for them with gasoline money. Too long we have used our property taxes to fix and build roads. It’s time for the users to pay. And even if you don’t drive, you pay when those apples come to market in a truck – that cost is passed on to you. No need to be paying for roads out of your property taxes, too, just so someone can get a free ride.

  4. Moving money from a project that will serve hundreds of people a day (and I am being generous at that) like the HSR to a project that affects thousands of people a day (currently on the Hoan) makes sense… That is the main reason that our politicians will never do it.

    Yes, a nice path over the bridge would be a great attraction and a possibility as well.

    and as for Bill Sell… users do pay for all this already. From gas tax monies. We need the idiots in Madison to keep their hands out of the Transportation Fund… they “borrow” from it interest free and in turn, the fund has to bond (borrow) money at the current interest rate… now the fund is reduced by interest payments from this year and all the past “borrows” for the term of the bonds issued each year.

    also, since they always compare the HSR to trains in Europe… they are heavily subsidized, are not close to their projected ridership and still cost the rider about a days pay for the average citizen… talk about subsidizing the wealthy.

  5. This is the old divide and conquer strategy. The very reason that he state has not dealt with this is that they don’t have the money. If they divert it from one project to this one than the other folks will be up in arms.
    Let’s be factual here. The gasoline tax does not cover all road expenses. Not only are many city and county roads paid for by property tax thousands of acres of taxable property are set aside to accomodate automobiles.
    I do agree we should not divert road tax funds into the general revenue fund, nor should we divert funds for high-speed rail to the Hoen Bridge. Maybe we should have fixed the Hoen bridge and the Zoo Interchange before we widened I-94 to Illinois? Maybe we should charge tools on I-94?

  6. First of all, chunks of concrete falling off the bridge, while certainly a safety hazard to be addressed, does NOT mean this bridge is ready to collapse. Unlike the the Zoo bridges that were all concrete structures, the structural integrity of this bridge design is in the steel arch and steel girders. The concrete is only the driving surface and has little to do with the overall structural soundness of the bridge. Now, if we find rusty rivet joints, cracks or broken welds, that’s a whole different story, and then you would have concern for a collapse or failure. Therefore, repair\replace the concrete…good to go.
    As for how to pay for the repair, I assure you we will not need the 14 trains, or whatever the ridiculous number is for their fairytale ridership projections, buy a few less of those, and you have the money to pay for the repair. This is how our state has operated for years, robbing Peter to pay Paul, so why the hand wringing with the train fund?
    While I’m not in favor of the HSR, our leaders have already committed to it, so why not scale it back until ridership demands more.
    What’s not an option:
    >increased gas taxes…Taxed Enough Already! (and stop raiding the fund)
    >increased property taxes…Taxed Enough Already!
    >increased taxes on business…Taxed Enough Already! (and leaving the state in droves)

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