Does Gov. Walker's Reelection Imperil Milwaukee's Streetcar Plans?
With Republican governors across the country derailing rail projects left and right, Dellinger investigates whether Walker's enmity for the "$100 [sic] Boondoggle" Milwaukee streetcar system, scheduled for completion in Fall 2014, might put the line in the crosshairs as well.
Pointing to a thorough piece the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran last year, Dellinger says there's reason to believe, "Walker might be powerless to stop the streetcar plan, even if he wanted to do so."
According to the article by Larry Sandler, "A 10-year-old civil rights settlement...prohibits the state from blocking the streetcar project, according to a top federal transportation official and an attorney involved in the settlement. Faced with allegations that it was discriminating against urban minorities by favoring freeways over light rail, the state agreed in November 2000 to cooperate with the Milwaukee Connector study and to incorporate its recommendations into the state's long-term transportation plans. That study eventually spawned the streetcar."
Isn't it ironic then that John Norquist, who was mayor of Milwaukee at the time of the agreement, believes that transit has returned as a wedge social issue. "This last election Walker ran against the city, tried to wrap the fear about the big city around Barrett's neck," Norquist observed. "It's all very hardcore. They treat transit like it's a welfare queen sashaying down a welfare promenade."