Here in Wausau there was recently
discussion of what to do about Interstate 39, which in this part of the
state also is state highway 51.
It's a pretty respectable ribbon of tarmac,
four lanes, and frequently gets congested in given locations, especially
during holidays, and even more so in the warmer months when every cretin
from Illinois (which is, as far as I can tell, all of them) feels a need
to run up to the Northwoods region.
Well apparently the state's plan to relieve
the congestion -- mind you, this is just a suggestion right now -- is to
spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars to widen the highway to
six lanes and nuke some of the exits cutting through the Wausau area, which
would seriously affect traffic flow through some business districts, require
the relocation of an elementary school and a cemetery, and of course send
property values in some neighborhoods right down the ol' cesspit.
Now before you think I'm just whining for
the sake of it, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I do not live in
any of the parts of town which will be affected by these proposed changes.
There's a big problem with the idea, though,
one which I don't think the state has considered, really, and one which
makes the entire plan completely stupid.
It's said of this part of the world that
we have two seasons: Winter and Construction. That's correct -- when the
world's not frozen solid around us, there's an awful lot of road work to
Well here in Wisconsin the highway department
has a nasty habit of blocking off the entire segment to be repaired, and
keeping it blocked off for months, even though it is perfectly driveable,
and even when no construction work is being done. Parts of the road which
will not see any work done on them for weeks remain unusable to
There are stretches of road, in other words,
miles in length, which are blocked off for no good reason whatsoever.
It seems to me that the most reasonable
way to deal with this is not to spend stacks of money on widening the roads,
but rather to change the methods the road crews use to block off construction
What is truly amazing about this is that
the legislature in this state is largely Republican -- traditionally the
ones not in favor of wasting tax dollars whenever it's avoidable...