The Zoo Interchange of political jabs

    Perhaps the “glass houses” adage has merit.
    This week in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race began with Republican County Executive Scott Walker blaming Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for the closure of the U.S. Highway 45 northbound bridge through the Zoo Interchange.
    The Walker campaign quickly created a website ( and erected billboards about the “Barrett Bypass,” even though the bridge was not in Barrett’s city and Barrett did not make the decisions about the interchange reconstruction schedules.
    “It is amazing that Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett can advocate spending $810 million on a new ‘high-speed’ rail line while the state government cannot even fix one of the busiest interchanges in Wisconsin. Years of raiding the Transportation Fund and years of Milwaukee politicians like the Mayor fighting work on the East-West corridor have now led to a crisis that will have a negative impact on commerce,” Walker said.
    The week is ending with the Zoo Interchange reopened and Barrett and the Democrats accusing Walker of neglecting Milwaukee County’s infrastructure.
    County officials are erecting covered scaffolds around most of the Milwaukee County Courthouse after a volleyball-size chunk of limestone from a decorative cornice fell 120 feet to the sidewalk on the west side of the building.
    Democrats say the state of the courthouse reflects Walker’s deferrals of preventative maintenance.
    “Milwaukee County is crumbling – literally – under Scott Walker. Under Scott Walker, maintenance backlogs on County Parks and bridges have surged and concrete has begun falling from his own County Courthouse,” stated a press release from the Wisconsin Democratic Party. “Under his failed leadership, nearly $300 million in much-needed repairs and maintenance on county bridges, dams, and buildings have been pushed back, and Walker has let fully-funded highway maintenance positions sit vacant.”
    The Dems went so far as to create short video about the issue:
    Barrett claimed his rival has been telling voters in Kenosha and Racine that his top transportation priority is to bulk up I-94 from the state line to General Mitchell International Airport, while telling Milwaukee media that his first project would be revamping the Zoo Interchange.
    Barrett said, “Just like the thousands of drivers who use it daily, I am pleased to hear the northbound Highway 45 bridge in the Zoo Interchange will reopen Friday, and I remain committed to the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange, as I always have been.  It’s unfortunate some candidates in this campaign have chosen to fabricate controversy in order to score political points on this issue – while ignoring their own records.  As governor, I will ensure our road and highway infrastructure has the resources it needs to create jobs, move commerce, and grow Wisconsin’s economy.”
    For more, view a WISN Channel 12 report and read a Milwaukee Biz Blog about the first round of volleys.
    – BizTimes Milwaukee

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