Posted tagged ‘transit’

The Corridor Strategy For Development, Cont’d

December 10, 2012

Earlier this year I wrote a piece for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel arguing that the Milwaukee-Madison I-94 corridor held great potential for economic development in the 21st century. I expanded the piece and gave it more of a Madison focus for this Isthmus cover story.

This is the essence of the argument:

Simply put, that 80-mile I-94 corridor traversing Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson and Dane counties could be the muscle and brain of Wisconsin’s 21st-century economic renaissance.

It also, I would argue, holds greater economic promise for Madison and Dane County’s prosperity than does the Thrive region, the seven largely rural counties surrounding Dane County that community leaders have identified as Madison’s cohort for growth.

Those four I-94 corridor counties cover less than 5% of the state, but have one-third of its population, 44% of its college graduates and almost 40% of Wisconsin jobs, according to the UW-Extension’s Center for Community and Economic Development. The synergy of a great transportation corridor connecting the state’s two largest metropolitan areas seems obvious.

Tom Hefty, the retired head of Blue Cross-Blue Shield United of Wisconsin, made that case 10 years ago when he tried — and failed — to convince Gov. Jim Doyle to adopt a corridor development plan as part of the state’s economic strategy.

The logic: Milwaukee is the state’s finance and commercial capital. Madison is the political capital and home to a world-class research university. Waukesha County is a teeming entrepreneurial beehive. Already a good chunk of workers travel back and forth along the corridor. Major educational facilities, including a rising UW-Milwaukee, prepare the workforce.

“You combine an academic powerhouse with a commercial powerhouse, and you get job growth,” says Hefty.

Do you think that Wisconsin’s languishing economy could use more jobs? The answer is obvious, but the politics here are deeply dysfunctional. Talk about Mission: Impossible. It’s not just Milwaukee versus Madison; their shared liberalism is abhorrent to conservative Waukesha County. Lambs will lie down with lions before the corridor politicians ever work together.

For that matter, Gov. Scott Walker’s successful effort to kill the $810 million federally funded train service between Milwaukee and Madison is just one more nasty episode in that endless grudge match.

But before you turn the page, here’s the thing: The corridor is coming together without these feuding politicians.

To read more, pls go here.


What Madison and Milwaukee could learn from Denver

November 23, 2009

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, 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

By Marc Eisen

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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