Comment on the August 8 Decision by WisDOT

Chris Krochalk

I would also like to weigh in on this topic.

My background: I've been a bike-commuter since '94. Up until recently, I have lived on the East Side/Shorewood and worked in the Third Ward. I thought I was the most spoiled commuter out there b/c over 90% of my route consisted of the bike path.

Recently I moved to Bay View and my company moved near the downtown needless to say, I became even more interested in the bike path study because my route now consists of KK, 1st St, Water St.

I've supported the Hoan idea ever since I first heard about it (only by collecting names for the petition). I thought it would be both a great resource for Bay View commuters as well as the City of Milwaukee.

With my move to Bay View, I found out about the two other competing alternatives. I rode what I could to form an opinion, and asked myself the same question the other person who posted his opinion, Would I ride this route?

Like the other poster, I concluded (at this point) that I would NOT use the DOT recommended route for the following reasons:

* I will still have to ride on Water/1st/KK anyway, what's a few more blocks?

* It appears that the actual % of my ride in the RR corridor is very small

* new technology or not - my road bike (and my butt) has not met a RR crossing that it likes. I currently ride over 1 set of tracks per commute. Increasing that to 7 is completely unacceptable. What's even worse is that some of these crossings are at less than 45 degrees, making it more dangerous.

* the safety issue wouldn't deter me, but I wouldn't want my fiance, or any lone rider, woman or children, to use it

So, if the DOT is building this for me (I feel so special), they are wasting the grant money.

The Hoan I would definitely ride (even though it would add 2 miles to my ride - probably could use the exercise), and the 2nd Street route I would use as well (as long as it was re-paved).

OK that was my objective side (as much as I can be) for the ranting.

The more I found out about this project, the more it angered me. I've been in contact with Ryan Luck to get more details about this project and learned the following (most of which all of you probably know).

* the State received the money in 1991!!! I'll say it again 1991!!! We received a total of $1.5 million (including a state enhancement grant of $743,000 in 2000 to update the original grant for inflation).

* at the Aug 8th press conference, Mr. Luck said on more than one occasion that "they" would pay for 80% of the project. I presumed when he said "they" that he meant the state. But obviously, the state isn't paying for anything - its fed money.

* the location study alone took 5 years!!! I'll say it again, 5 years!!! and in that time spent $370,000.

* the decision makers are NOT bike commuters: the decision on the route was made by the following District 2 Mgmt: Dewayne Johnson, Deputy District Director and Kevin Chesnik, Central Projects Group Manager. Mr. Luck could not comment on these 2 gentlemen's experience as bike commuters. (which leads me to conclude that they don't).

The WisDOT Core team which included Mr. Luck, Kathleen Labisch, Lois Kawatski, and Frank Furdek. Mr. Luck only stated that both Lois and Frank are "avid bikers", leading me to conclude not commuters.

* I believe that the Transportation District 2 DOT office is located in Waukesha (as well as the decision makers??? I'm not sure about this point though, please correct me) - I would rather have decisions made by local officials/project managers

* as I found out at the press conference, the Citizens Advisory Committee (the people that this trail will be built for) gave overwhelming support for the Hoan and ranked the chosen route last.

So, unless anyone corrects me on my logic, it appears that we have a project that has no time-line, no urgency to see it through to conclusion. A project led by people who don't have a serious stake in the outcome, who don't use bicycles to commute and don't live in the area affected. Further more, the recommendations of the people who will use it, who have spent so much time on the Advisory Committee, have been completely ignored.

It also appears to me that the DOT picked the option that will be least likely implemented. IF the Hoan was chosen, even with its heftier price tag, I have no doubt that the Hoan committee would find a sponsor(s) to make up the 20%. BY alienating this committee and group of citizens, who is going to lead the charge to fund this route?

Mr. Luck started his press conference with "This is a good day for bike commuters." I wish that were true. If the events here have shown me anything, it's that I won't see any bike route to downtown until one of 2 things happen:

1)I wait for a sale at Sears, buy white paint and take a paint brush with me as I ride to and from work

OR (most likely)

2) I buy former farm land in a new development 1 hour away so I can commute by car downtown. Ahhh, but having 8 lanes of freeway will sure be nice!!

Sorry for the sarcasm, its just my subtle way of implying that the DOT is more concerned with auto travel and feels that bike commuting is not a viable alternative.

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