Hoan Bridge becomes political football

    Milwaukee politicians are looking for some new alternatives to pay for resurfacing the Hoan Bridge, but a top Department of Transportation official says one proposal is unlikely to fly.
    Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee)and Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) sent a letter to members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, asking that $250 million of $810 million in stimulus money for designated for high-speed rail be diverted to re-deck the Hoan Bridge.
    “It is important that we fix the existing infrastructure before we build a new train line,” said Sinicki. “This is about priorities.”
    However, DOT executive assistant Chris Klein said to shift the high-speed rail funding to a highway project would require an act of Congress and presidential approval, as well as a nod from the state Legislature.
    Klein said that would be unlikely, in part because of a huge demand from other states for the rail money.
    Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson, who is challenging Plale in the Democratic primary, said the request by Plale and Sinicki was a “stunt.”
    Larson, who was one of the co-founders of the Coalition to Save the Hoan Bridge, said, “People in Milwaukee County have waited far too long to see the Hoan Bridge re-decked. Now, our legislators are turning a real problem into a political stunt instead of finding a real, viable solution. Netting and far-fetched schemes are a joke, not the answer. It was bad enough when the DOT studied tearing down an artery that families in my neighborhood use everyday – now, legislators are trying to grab headlines with a scheme that would require a sign-off by the President of the United States, Congress, the Governor, and the State legislature. You’d have a better chance at solving the problem using the money the Brewers had to pay Jeff Suppan to stop pitching.  It’s not going to happen.”
    Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, meanwhile, is urging some of the $105 million in extra federal highway money the state will receive go toward fixing the bridge.
    In a letter to DOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi and the co-chairs of the Legislature’s budget committee, Barrett says $50 million should be diverted to engineer and re-deck the Hoan.
    The DOT informed the committee co-chairs earlier this week of the federal windfall, which is about 15 percent more in federal highway aid than was expected.
    – WisPolitics.com

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