DESTROYING THE 400S WAS NOT A BARGAIN. The Political Environment breaks down the bill for upgrading the existing expressways of southeastern Wisconsin.

The reconstruction and widening of SE Wisconsin's freeways (which are not free) was estimated in 2003 at $6.4 billion, but I think it could end up being more expensive.


$810 million went into the Marquette Interchange component, $1.9 billion is ticketed for the North/South leg of I-94 to the Illinois state line now undeway, and the Zoo Interchange estimate has ballooned to $2.3 billion.

That's $5 billion right there. Out of $6.4 billion.

Do we think the remaining major segments, with their new lanes and property acquisition and rising fuel, materials and labor costs, can be done across Waukesha County on I-94 to the Jefferson County line, I-43 north through Milwaukee and Ozaukee Counties, plus I-43 south across Walworth County - - and the Big Daddy Of Them All - - the controversial rebuilding and widening on I-94 past Story Hill and Miller Park, perhaps double-decked - - can all be done for the remaining $1.4 billion?

Take a look at the map of the freeway system at this official site and ask yourself if all the portions left - - large and small - - look doable to you for about 20% of the pot?

And when -- if (?) -- all that work is done traffic speeds will be no faster than they currently are.

That $800 million to rebuild the Watertown - Madison line, and the annual operating subsides, are a bargain, when the alternatives are correctly viewed.

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