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Letter to the editor: Say no to streetcar

To the editor:

My comment is regarding an April 26 article titled, “Alderman urges rent for utilities.”

My first question is: Have they even had any public hearings, let alone a referendum, to find out how many people even want this trolley system? Even though I lean to the left and am a big advocate of alternative transportation, I am completely against this.

We did have a chance on two occasions over the years to do it right. About 15 years ago, there was a light-rail proposal that would have gone from Waukesha to downtown Milwaukee and, in at least one proposal, maybe to the east side of Milwaukee.

But all of those on the right, including those with their turned-up noses in Waukesha, were totally against it. It seems like the only time Waukesha wants anything to do with Milwaukee is when they want our water.

Then a couple of years ago, we had a chance to build a high-speed train system from Milwaukee to Madison. This could have led to other high-speed trains in this state, linking many other cities.

But our fine governor, who like all others on the right, wants nothing to do with any type of transportation that does not utilize concrete and or run on rubber tires, rejected it. I am sure this satisfied Walker’s lobbyists like those from the highway construction lobby, the concrete lobby, etc.

Now city officials want to take $65 million or so and waste it to build this Tinkertoy. Then they can say, “Look, Milwaukee now has a trolley system and, to use the governor’s term, we’re open for business.”

I have not read any other details about this project so far except as to where it might go, and it’s not far enough to really matter to anyone. So my bottom line of thinking is that if we can’t do it right, then we should not do it at all.

Mark S. Hansen
Milwaukee

3 comments

  1. Michael Sullivan

    Union battles are great.Company profits versus a share of success for workers.
    Striking public workers are another story.Elected public officials fear the lack of happy
    cooperation from civil servants in getting things done.The chaos of a strike by civil
    servants terrifies them (I may not get re-elected). So elected officials don’t fight the
    unions very hard on wages and extra employees. Pity.
    You don’t have to vote stupidly in Wisconsin , you can move to California ,where
    everything is stupid (big debt ,big deficit). We pay the president of San Diego State U.
    $400,000 per year. Tuition went up again( 12% this time). Or you can go to Ohio ,
    where the president of Ohio State U. made $1,323,911. Hey, Ohio . Isn’t where the
    governor is having so much trouble controlling the public employees union.

  2. Mr. Hansen, Milwaukee is building a modern *streetcar* system, and it’s been called that from day one. There were many more public meetings on it and exactly as many referendums than there were on the petroleum-based billion-dollar Marquette Interchange and all the freeways that demolished businesses, factories and homes and the current unnecessary multi-billion-dollar widening of I-94.

    With its ties to Big Oil, the radical American far-right has become hostile to anything rail. Uninformed talk-radio icons fan the flames with sarcasm in efforts to diminish the project by stooping to childish baby-talk like ‘choo-choo’ and ‘trolley’ hoping some listeners will parrot it around.

    But yeah, let’s talk conservatism in Europe, Canada, and Japan … and in Switzerland, the Capital of Conservatism … where modern streetcars and commuter trains run almost everywhere there are people. Here, the ‘New Right’ supports heavy spending on wider and wider highways without referendums, roads where just one breakdown can stall thousands of people for an hour or more … and their only solution is to keep expanding, as though the solution to someone’s weight problem is to let out his belt.

    Highway contractors are powerful. They get their money from connected politicians. They personally handed Scott Walker an undetermined bundle of campaign cash in February 2010 in a private meeting in Orlando.

    When roadbuilders hand out not much campaign cash but get billions in government contracts, is that a good deal?

    Milwaukee freeways were/are anything but free, and Average Joe never had a chance to vote on them. All this recent widening is usurping private property and it’s costing $7 billion just within the city limits while draining value from neighborhood properties that beg for noise controls.

    Doesn’t Bob Donovan ever look outside his box to see what streetcar lines have done for fifty cities in the past fifteen years? Where people walk, shop, and engage in civic life in flourishing markets all over the avenues and boulevards of American commerce?

    Streetcars are something that people like to use. They operate in limited spaces, they boost property values, they indirectly create jobs, and they attract developers who will not write checks for a bus line. It’s crazy to force ever-wider roads onto cities while denying investments in modern non-petroleum transit.

    To claim to value personal freedom while simultaneously scorning the cities and attacking wise, proven investments in quality infrastructure is the exact opposite of conservatism.

  3. Irwin Fletcher

    Mr. Jakubiak,

    Where is all the data supporting your proported “boon” to local economies where street cars were installed?

    Milwaukee is not New York, Chicago or San Francisco where traffic effectively FORCES people to utilize public transportation. Driving and parking in Milwaukee is not much of an issue.

    For those that want an alternative in along the proposed 2 mile loop, I suggest you buy a bicycle.

    If public transportation is really needed along the proposed corridor, buy 2 buses to service the route. It would cost 1/200 th the price and be more flexible.

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