Too-Broke-for-Bike-Lanes Wisconsin Building Pricey New DOT Headquarters

The culture war against biking and walking continues in Wisconsin under the guise of fiscal conservatism.

Te Wisconsin DOT's current headquarters. The state is going to spend $200 million for a new building but it supposedly can't afford bike lanes. Photo: Google Maps
Wisconsin DOT’s current headquarters. The state is going to spend $200 million for a new DOT building but it supposedly can’t afford bike lanes. Photo: Google Maps

James Rowen at the Political Environment relays the news that state lawmakers are preparing to put the kibosh on funding for walking and biking trails. That’s in addition to a proposal to nix the state’s complete streets policy. Rowen writes:

There is apparently a move underway by GOP legislators to insert language in the budget that would end the use of state funding, or federal funding passed through the state to localities, for various pedestrian and bike projects and trails.

Legislators who do not represent big cities often do not appreciate the extent of non-vehicle commuting and recreation. These legislators ‘thinking’ is: if localities want these facilities, they have to pay 100% of the cost — though state-imposed spending caps make that outcome difficult-to-impossible, and no such one-dimensional approach is required when a street or highway expansion is planned.

Walker’s budget already repeals the Complete Streets Act, which called for the addition of bike lanes or sidewalks on street projects above a certain expenditure level; the potential prohibition of spending on separate bike or pedestrian trails extends this one-sided ‘transportation’ model in Wisconsin.

In case there was any confusion about where the state government’s priorities lie, Rowen also reports that the retrograde highway builders at Wisconsin DOT are in line to get a new, $200 million headquarters:

Scott Walker and his GOP legislative/budget-writing water carriers are cutting programs, raising state park entrance and camping fees, erasing bike trails and sidewalks from road projects, firing DNR scientists and refusing federal funds to help poor people obtain health insurance — all in the name of fiscal restraint also termed “crap” by a GOP legislator — but, by God, there shall be a new, $200 million palace built on Madison’s West side for state transportation officials and their client road-builders who write politicians nice checks.

And to make sure this new WisDOT facility is built, GOP legislators are adding to the budget a provision that exempts the project from City of Madison zoning codes.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Mobilizing the Region reports that New Jersey’s most dangerous street is in line for some much-needed improvements. And Greater Greater Washington says canceling Maryland’s Purple Line would cost more than it would save.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Feds to Traffic Engineers: Use Our Money to Build Protected Bike Lanes

|
The Federal Highway Administration wants to clear the air: Yes, state and local transportation agencies should use federal money to construct high-quality biking and walking infrastructure. State and local DOTs deploy an array of excuses to avoid building designs like protected bike lanes. “It’s not in the manual” is a favorite. So is “the feds won’t fund that.” Whether […]

Wisconsin GOP Discovers New Threat: Roundabouts

|
In Wisconsin, anti-urban politicos are out to kill a streetcar project that Milwaukee has been trying to build for years, while the state DOT plows ahead with cars-only mega-projects over the objections of civil rights advocates. The guiding principle isn’t to give local communities a say in transportation policy — it’s to build more highways. Except, apparently, […]

Funds for Walking and Biking Under Attack in Congress This Week

|
Funds for walking and biking infrastructure account for a tiny portion of federal transportation spending. Safer streets don’t cost much, though, so for the cities and towns that count on these programs, a few dollars from the feds can be a huge help. Despite the relatively small sums at play, walking and biking programs are a constant […]