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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

$50,000 for a one lane foot bridge but only $167,000 for an I-94 overpass. REALLY?

Our family just got back from 2 wonderful weeks in Yellowstone National Park. It is hard to come back to the real world, but re-enter I must: Calhoun Road widening is on the Common Council agenda tonight at 7:45pm.

A reader sent me this Freeman article, Contentious Calhoun Road project on Brookfield agenda tonight Alderman wants state to pay for all I-94 costs.

I have been against the widening of Calhoun south from the very beginning--mainly because of the cost in both taxpayer dollars and loss of quality of life for the residents living there.

The road does need resurfacing and some improvements, but the additional lanes and 35mph speed limit increase will be a hardship to those living there. The additional traffic lanes will also require replacing the interstate bridges prematurely.

The City clearly wants to widen Calhoun Road above what is needed, even though the traffic counts do not add up to the size and scope engineering says are necessary. The 2020 Master Plan does not agree with engineering’s opinion either—but here they just call the Master Plan a guideline.

Alderman Jerry Mellone was quoted in the article, “ ‘The city of Brookfield is asking taxpayers to pay 25 percent of an unknown expenditure.’

     Mellone said the cost of the bridge project, which is slated for construction in spring and to be completed in summer 2009, should be covered 100 percent by the state since the interstate is federally controlled.

    ‘This is a monetary and time consuming expense that can wait to be paid for at the state’s expense,’ he said. ‘We don’t even know how much it will cost. A lot of times these projects come in way over budget and the taxpayers should not be responsible for that.’

    In a letter Mellone sent to the common council, the Calhoun Road bottleneck at I-94 requires replacement of two interstate bridges which will be accomplished with the diversion of three lanes of westbound traffic onto the eastbound bridge. The 47-yearold bridge will need to support four lanes of traffic, he said.

    The estimated cost for the two temporary bridges is $167,000, Mellone said. “This is going to be a big inconvenience for a long, long time,’ Mellone said. ‘It will hurt businesses, the people who will have to use alternate routes and the taxpayers.’

It always amazes me that when government wants to do something, they minimize the expense, but when they don’t want to do it, the project is deemed too costly. 

When our neighborhood wanted to have a foot bridge installed over Kinsey Park creek, we were told we could not: It was too costly. The tiny foot bridge was estimated at $50,000 for a one lane foot bridge! These are the foot bridges you see in the city parks and parkways. But now for an Interstate bridge for I-94 they estimate the cost only to be only $167,000? That seems way under budget to me. But then, our City wants to make it seem reasonable and affordable.

I do hope the council looks at this with a realistic, practical eye or we will end up opening our wallets for a big cost overrun!

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