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Don’t think infrastructure is important? Look at Milwaukee

By Joe Yovino

What’s next? Frogs and locusts?

Gravity is pulling hard at Milwaukee’s infrastructure. It’s crumbling down around us.

Let’s recap the past few weeks in Milwaukee:

• The city took facades off the MacArthur Square parking garage as a precaution;

• a 13-ton concrete panel fell off the O’Donnell Park parking structure, killing a teen;

• the Hoan Bridge is sprinkling concrete chunks onto the Jones Island treatment plant;

• three sinkholes large enough to swallow SUVs or homes have split the earth;

• the county has contracted with Graef-USA Inc., Milwaukee, to inspect facades across the region;

• Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is urging all businesses — both public and private — to do their own inspections in the name of public safety; and

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• businesses and residents in towns such as Shorewood have been hit by major flooding twice.

Gov. Jim Doyle has transferred $1.3 billion out of the transportation fund in the past eight years to balance other budgets, and local cities and towns are crying poor as nearly every governmental body says it’s stretched thin.

This is exactly why keeping up on infrastructure is of utmost importance. It’s not sexy spending money on repairing infrastructure. It requires diligence to invest in what many constituents can’t see or walk right past on a daily basis. The small cracks in structures appear to be just that … small cracks. But someday those small cracks may become large cracks.

And then there’s even larger problems.

Joe Yovino is the Web editor at The Daily Reporter. He thinks he’ll have a professional look at that rotting floor joist under his house.

One comment

  1. Talk of infrastructure repairs often centers on roads and transportation. Sinkholes expose the infrastructure underneath that is badly in need of our attention–namely, fixing water, stormwater, and sewage pipes that leak and lead to sinkholes, pollution, and other problems. We need to find funds to fix these pipes. There is a vast need, and a pittance of federal/state funding available to address these issues. If folks keep repaving roads, and putting asphalt in holes created by leaking water, than these issues will continue to occur. We are finding that 40% of the stormwater pipes discharging to the Menomonee (which should be rain and snow runoff) contain human feces, meaning that the storwater and sewage pipes are cross mixing. This is a huge human health concern as well. We need to find some funding to address these pipes as well. Most municipalities are at best fixing/repairing 1% of their pipes per year. If you do the math, that’s 100 years for some pipes to be fixed or replaced, and what is the average lifetime of a pipe? I’ve been told 25 years or so, but you get the gist. We need a massive public works program to fix pipes, put in green infrastructure like bioswales and other natural practices to help infiltrate rainwater, and create jobs. Its a win, win, win.

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