Wisconsin’s Costly Highway Projects Draw Criticism From Lawmakers, Environmental Group

For four of its highway expansion and renovation projects, the state of Wisconsin is expected to spend a whopping $3 billion.

It’s a price tag that is causing many of the state’s taxpayers to speak out — including two legislators and an environmental group that call the projects “unnecessary,” especially considering rising trends in alternative modes of transportation in cities like Milwaukee.

According to a September 9 Fox 6 Now article, the WISPIRG (Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group) Foundation is pressing Wisconsin’s legislation to spend these billions on repairing local roads and funding alternative transportation methods like bicycles and public transportation.

“Local transportation infrastructure is in disrepair,” a WISPIRG Foundation statement reads. “We could implement all the recommendations of the 2013 bi-partisan Transportation Policy and Finance Commission for local road repair, transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and the rehabilitation of state-owned roads, for the next 10 years, for just over $1 billion of those highway expansion funds.”

In addition to costing taxpayers literal billions, expanding highways like I-94 requires the use of large industrial construction equipment — and when this equipment is mostly stored in warehouses, there are a number of safety hazards that come along with it.

The forklift battery, which powers the machinery that transports this construction equipment in and out of warehouses, is especially notorious for the harmful chemicals it contains. If a warehouse doesn’t follow OSHA regulations for battery room ventilation, the gases that leak from a forklift battery during the watering or maintenance processes can be extremely hazardous to one’s health when inhaled.

All told, travel by car in Wisconsin reached its peak a decade ago, according to Fox 6 Now. More and more of its residents are choosing instead to travel by bike, public transit — even by foot. Considering this, it’s hard to think of reasons to support the state’s planned spending on highway repairs.

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