What Madison and Milwaukee could learn from Denver

One measure of the stagnant political culture in Wisconsin has been the failure to sort out a 21st century transportation strategy, especially in southeastern Wisconsin but also in greater Dane County. Reality is that economic markets and job-sheds transcend Wisconsin’s 19th century political boundaries. Yet our communities are locked in endless turf battles as if those regional facts of life don’t exist.

I was curious to hear what city planner Peter Park had to say about his experiences in Denver. As you’ll see from this story for WisBusiness.com, Denver is far ahead of any Wisconsin community, and Park is one of those really bright guys you seek out for his insight.

Park: Milwaukee’s former planner embraces rail as key to urban development
11/16/2009

By Marc Eisen
For WisBusiness.com

Peter Park, the star urban planner behind Milwaukee’s downtown revival, returned to Wisconsin Friday to discuss the lessons he’s learned in his new work as Denver’s planning chief.

“We need to look at transportation and development together. They’re not separate,” he told a gathering of several hundred environmentalists at the Promega Corporation’s Biopharmaceutical Technology Center in Fitchburg.

Park, 46, is working the land-use side of the most ambitious transportation project underway in the United States — the $4.7 billion FasTracks program. It promises 119 miles of light-rail and commuter-rail tracks by 2017, including 70 train stops that are expected to be the focal point of new residential and commercial development in the Denver area.

“Doing all this at once is crazy and scary,” Park admitted. “But if we’re going to grow [the transit system], now’s a great time for it.” Metropolitan Denver’s population of about 2.7 million, he noted, is expected to hit 4.3 million by 2035.

Park’s talk to the “Bringing Bioneers to Wisconsin” conference was a stark reminder that Wisconsin’s marquee cities, Milwaukee and Madison, are laggards in sorting out their 21st century transportation systems.

Read more here.

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