Wake up Oak Creek and Franklin - Some "Knowitalls" are going to screw up your businesses

Development, Free market, Nutjobs, Restaurants, Taxes

Oh, to have a blog in one of those communities.  Instead, I will have to just try to shout louder.

This story is such a disaster that I'm not even going to bother linking it.  I am copy-and-pasting the whole thing and interjecting my comments in (bold)...

Road planned in a roundabout way

Panel thinks public will come around to 27th Street concept

Franklin — A committee (Did you know that a camel is actually a horse designed by a committee?) made up of Franklin and Oak Creek officials is betting (with money that isn't theirs) that the public will learn to accept (My-Sugar-Na hates it - absolutely hates it - when I try to tell her that she'll learn to accept something) roundabouts, given time (how much time).

(How scary is that.  One sentence nets four comments.  At this point, it will take a month to finish this blog entry.)

That factor, combined with the perceived benefits (Dear Lord, the combination of someone betting I'll accept something and that there is a peception of anything... a bad, bad combination) of roundabouts over traffic lights, has led to the 27th Street Steering Committee's decision to urge the state Department of Transportation to install several roundabouts (how many is several?  This article mentions 12) as part of future reconstruction of 27th Street.

The roundabouts would not be installed until 2014 at the earliest. By that time, they will be more common (Where?  Remind be to avoid those areas, too) and residents will be used to driving them (not if they avoid them), committee members said.

Reasons favoring roundabouts

The committee last week heard from engineering firm and infrastructure specialist HNTB Corp. (read: Firm existing for the sole interest of bleeding taxpayers.  Oh, sure, their website says they "create infrastructure that best meets the unique demands of its environment."  But that really means they have to sell their brand of "enabl(ing) clients to achieve their goals and inspiring visions" with as much salesmanship as they can muster to keep those tax dollers a-flowin'.)  about the advantages and disadvantages of roundabouts at busy intersections along 27th Street in Oak Creek and Franklin.

In areas such as safety, environmental impact and traffic flow, roundabouts are superior to the traditional stoplight-controlled intersections, said Mark Kaminski, HNTB senior planner (Sure they do, as that is what HNTB makes their money on.  Where is the comment from the stoplight lobby?).

Vehicles must travel slower through roundabouts (which runs counter to my desire to get from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible), which improves safety (so does limiting the number of "big box" retailers in a four mile stretch), he said. Fewer idling cars cuts down on air pollution and the lack of traffic signals keep vehicles moving to help the traffic flow (better timing of the stoplights would work, too, but that won't make HNTB any money), Kaminski said.

The cost of construction is roughly the same, though roundabouts would be cheaper over the long haul as utility costs are cut with no traffic signals (but has that cost been considered with the loss of business revenue as I - and others - avoid the Menards on 27th St and instead go to the Menards on Hwy 100 on my way home from work, or to avoid Casa di Giorgio, the wonderful Italian restaurant on 31st & Rawson and go to Mia Famiglia on Hwy 100 and Forest Home for dinner), he said.

Differing opinions

The toughest challenge lies in the court of public opinion (Geez, shouldn't the elected officials and their appointees be taking that into account FIRST?).

Some residents and business owners, in this area and elsewhere, have been vocal in their opposition to roundabouts (count me as one of them.  I live in West Allis but work in Franklin.  [Side note:  And until the lefties take my car away, I have occasion to drive down 27th St, so I have stake in this, too]). But HNTB officials said many more roundabouts (Why?  Why?  For the love of God, why?  Who is asking for them except for HNTB officials?) are planned throughout the state (Well, Jim Doyle is at the controls, so there is a lot of cigarette tax money to go around) and they predicted opposition will decline (sure, force 'em down our throat, and when the opposition occurs the excuse will be "well, we just paid $XX million for construction, so they will be here for awhile.") as drivers learn to navigate (or more likely, avoid) them.

Franklin Alderman Steve Olson has noticed that happen already in his city. Concern about roundabouts died down when one was installed on Drexel Avenue (OK, lets stop and think about this for a moment.  That roundabout is on Drexel between Hwy 100 and Loomis.  One of the exits for the Sendiks and Target complex [which has some typical suburban name] empties right into a neighborhood subdivision.  The only other business on the west side of Hwy 100 is a Speedway gas station, and east of Loomis is a whole lot of nothing but neighborhoods.  I can unequivocally state that that roundabout is about the only place where it makes sense.  You are dropping lots of traffic in a quiet neighborhood.  It tells me as the driver to use one of the other parking lot exits.  But this yahoo Olson is comparing napalm to pomegranites.  One roundabout in a neighborhood that has a Target is NOT the same as a four mile stretch with a dozen roundabouts where the speed limit is 40 MPH and the entire reason most of the businesses exist is because their customers are attracted to the other businesses in the area, too.  Arrrrrrrgggghhhh, I can't take much more of this!), he said.

All three voting members of the committee - Olson, Oak Creek Alderman Tom Michalski and Marie Myszkowski, a member of the Oak Creek Community Development Authority - voted in favor of a resolution supporting roundabouts (then all three are suckers for a sales pitch).

The committee recommended the common councils also adopt resolutions.

It was unknown when the state Department of Transportation will make the final decision on 27th Street roundabouts. Construction of 27th Street between College and Drexel avenues is slated to begin in 2013 (help me people, I can't be the only voice of reason).

In summary, a company in business to make a profit for its stakeholders off of taxpayers gives a sales pitch to a group of politicians with other peoples money to spend.  The sales pitch was so good that the bobbleheads on the committee fall in love with it, and tell us that we will, too.  Did I get that right?

I would have normally included a lot of links to articles and photos, but I am too ticked off.  Besides, if my running commentary didn't distract you enough, more links sure would have.  But I did click a link on FranklinNOW's Forum section on this topic (and For the Love of Benji, please read those comments.  Most hate the idea.  A couple bobbleheads think we will love them too).  The best one - the one that proves that the nutjobs will eventually rule the world - about all of these other countries that use roundabouts.  Besides the fact that "If Timmy jumped off a cliff, does that mean you have to?", the fact is that most of those big foreign cities with roundabouts only have about 10 million more people than that of the greater Milwaukee area.

I am not one for advocating "contact your alderman" type stuff (I do call him, but I'm not one for rallying the troops).  But if you want to get your point across, when on 27th St. south of College, tell the businesses that you won't be back if negotiating roundabouts is part of the scenario.  I told that to a manager at the Target near I-43 and Moorland (with the two most ill-conceived roundabouts in roundabout history) and he said "You're not the first to tell me that". 

If roundabout-avoiders will cost customers to local business, is there a silent group of roundabout-liking customers that will actively go increase business?  I didn't think so.

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