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A Potential Stimulus Horror Story from Franklin, Wisconsin

9:13 AM PDT on March 13, 2009

Some disturbing news about stimulus spending on roads comes to us from Streetsblog Network member blog Sprawled Out,
which covers the city of Franklin, WI. In that Milwaukee suburb,
according to Sprawled Out's John Michlig, local bureaucrats are
potentially on track to use stimulus funds to widen a local street in a particularly destructive way:

20090310_d73ba2i6br9kf9mn16pjgcjj8k.preview.jpgThe plan: Use stimulus dollars to make this road wider, faster, bigger. Photo from Sprawled Out.

Once
again, the "answer" for a poorly street-planned community is to take
another of the plat-level streets to gargantuan, pedestrian-killing
width; a residential area roadway designed to freeway
standards. Another place-killing notch in the Franklin landscape that
will make this community that much more vehicle-centric -- a drive-thru
non-place with no appeal.

But. gosh, you can sure whiz right through.

Just
what local business needs, huh? Cars WHIZZING by rather than a walkable
environment that encourages lingering -- and spending, and returning.

51st street badly
needs shoulders and a walking/bike lane -- that will require widening
as well, but nothing so extreme as the four-lane variety and a much better, forward-looking use for stimulus funds. 51st does not need more vehicle lanes, and it does not need a faster speed limit.

But
here's what's so incredibly heartening about the members of our
network, now nearly 250 strong: Michlig is going to do everything
within his power as a citizen and as a blogger to prevent this plan
from simply sliding into place. In an update to his original post on
the widening, Michlig wrote about a meeting he had with Franklin's
mayor...

A bit of good news,perhaps: A conversation with Franklin's Mayor Thomas Taylor revealsthat he personally in not in favor of a four-lane widening.…Do Ibelieve the 4-lane option would/will be the only plan forwarded if notfor some timely intercession? ABSOLUTELY.…

So now the challenge is clear: Inorder to pursue the forward-thinking and economically-rewarding plan ofutilizing stimulus funds for creating pedestrian and bike utility andsafety rather than "business as usual" rote street-widening, it's vitalto get involved in the process early, as I plan to do.

We'll
keep you posted on developments. And if you're in or near Franklin,
head over to Michlig's blog and connect with him there to help stop
this default plan before it becomes reality. You can also find him on
Twitter as @SprawledOut.

Elsewhere around the network: Bike Portland covers Rep. Earl Blumenauer's call for a strengthening of the bike commuter tax benefit; Bike Denver looks at "Share the Road" campaigns and what they mean for bike-car relations; and Mobilizing the Region reports on the call for congestion pricing in Connecticut.

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