For now, let's set aside the fact that everybody with half a brain knows that the transportation fund has been raided for years, and that every proposal for reconstructing the Zoo interchange has been a Cadillac plan, and with each time they remove an option (like the heated seats) which doesn't actually appease the masses, the price tag goes up anyway. Those are serious issues, but the fact is that because they happened, we how have to deal with how to survive for two months until the emergency repairs are complete.
It distresses me (no, really, it does) that I spent 20 minutes on the phone with a Journal Sentinel reporter who not only didn't quote me in her story, but nothing we actually talked about even made it into the story. I guess another story re-re-rehashing the finger-pointing between the Milwaukee Mayor, the County Exec and Governor was more important than a story on the practical effects of the freeway lane closure and the resulting unnatural detours among the area residents.
So now, I have to write the column (Side note to Mark the Editor; If I have to keep filling these gaps, feel free to sell my stories to the Weekly Standard, or in the case of this story, Parade Magazine. Just remember my taste.) The trick is to do it without breaking my vow of not being controversial. Here goes...
Why the hell is 84th Street closed at I-94 to through traffic? And if you tell me to make a safe U-Turn zone for all the morons that can't figure out how to get from I-894 and Oklahoma to US-45 and Silver Spring, I'll ban you from my blog. Forever.
Hypothetically, if I am at Stein's on 108th St and have to (I mean got to, got to, GOT TO) arrive at the JC Penney's Furniture Outlet store near Mayfair and Burleigh, and if I know that US-45 northbound bridge is closed, I feel confident that I can still get to the Penney's outlet WITHOUT involving 84th St. I could take (hmmm, let's see) HIGHWAY 100 ALLTHE WAY, or at least until I get to Bluemoud Rd.
Why even offer a detour? Think about it. there is an overabundance of freeway on ramps for both US-45 and I-94 in the area, as well as parallel streets (Greenfield and Bluemound parallel I-94, while WI-100 parallels US-45) that anyone with half a brain can figure this out on his or her own.
Now, I've made no secret that I live near State Fair's main entrance, so obviously 84th St is a major corridor to me (so much so that it is a state highway, too). Friday night I am coming home from bowling on Bluemound and decided to take 84th St to get me home. Right away I see a sign that indicates that 84th St is closed to through traffic. Not thinking they meant for me too, I proceeded anyway. I got as far as the fire station and the road really was closed. But then, nothing. No directions of how to go from there, no indications of what other roads are closed. In checking the area, I found that the I-94 westbound exit at 84th St was closed to southbound traffic, too. Coming off the freeway exit on O'Connor, you can only turn north. It took me all of 24 milliseconds to wonder why a US-45 motorist gets a detour, but an 84th St motorist doesn't. But with the grace of God and my rarely-matched sense of direction, I did get home safely without incident.
I was still annoyed with why they had to close 84th St just to make a turnaround. One of the tags for this blog is "One idiot is offended". Well, I am quite offended, and since I am not an idiot, I have to assume there is one out there that is offended by this.
What's got me fried isn't the little picture view that I can't get through 84th St. It's because someone in government has decided - once again - that I'm not smart enough (in this case, I can't get around my city well enough) so they're going to have to take over. If it was just a matter of detour signs on the freeway pointing at 84th St, that's fine. But to close off a WI-181 for the eleven out-of-towners without GPS is absurd.
Another fry point is that if the DOT was going to tell me how to get around, they missed that second level... one for the people who do get caught without an 84th St anymore. Yesterday as I was tooling around town, I was heading east on National from about 92nd St as it turns its way around the railroad trestle. There was a big ol' sign stating to take 76th St as an alternate. OK, fair nuff, I said to myself. After a trip to drop off (Sponsor's Name Here)'s Official daughter, Gooey, off at her house, I had to figure out how to get from Hawley and Vliet back home. Not having the 84th St freeway exit at my disposal, I ended up with an annoying trip up Greenfield from Hawley/60th St.
Think about this... Because a freeway ramp is closed three miles west, they close another ramp to deal with it, and my 7 minute drive becomes over 15 minutes. That's that second level of thinking that the DOT didn't plan. I've got another one, too. Later in the day I was heading east on Greenfield Ave and I got to 76th St. Remember earlier when I mentioned that 76th was offered as an alternate northbound route to 84th St? I am sitting at the stoplight behind about six cars turning left and it occurred to me... there is no protected left arrow. All these cars are at the mercy of westbound traffic coming out of downtown West Allis. I don't know if the DOT has noticed, but Greenfield Ave is effectively one lane in each direction east of 92nd St... and now you will have cars backed up for blocks trying to turn left on 76th St. Way to go, DOT. Any considerations to adding temporary lights with left-turn arrows? Can the stop lights be re-timed? Or did some genius decide to make 84th a U-turn zone, and to hell with the rest? (That one's got my vote).
Again, all so they can offer a turnaround point for the dozen or so motorists an hour that can't figure out how to get north because of a freeway bridge being out. Another example of one (or multiple) eggheads that decide what is (roundabouts) or isn't safe (left hand exit ramps) because us lowly citizens can't figure it out for ourselves.
Think this is bad? Wait 'til 2014.