Friday, April 27, 2007

"Slow train coming"

On April 3rd, 2007, history was made. On that day, a French TGV train set a new world speed record of 357 MPH, smashing the old mark of 320 MPH set in 1990.

Meanwhile, we may just be setting a record of our own here in Milwaukee County. After 16 years of debate, Milwaukee County, the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Center District, and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce still have not agreed on how to spend $91 million in federal funds to improve our transit infrastructure.

Jeffrey F. Kober, President of Oak Creek manufacturer Milwaukee Composites Inc., can be counted as those not impressed by Milwaukee's inaction. He wrote the following in response to an editorial by Frank Jandt, editor of Mass Transit magazine.

"Fred, I passionately share your viewpoint on the poor state of transit affairs in our mutual home state of Wisconsin. I am embarrassed at how Milwaukee has completely mismanaged the $91 million fund during the last decade.

I operate a rapidly growing transit vehicle component manufacturing company located in the Milwaukee area and we provide good quality jobs for all our employees. All the jobs we provide have been created by the increasing demand of mass transit bus and railcar projects underway in most if not all other cities of comparable size to Milwaukee throughout North America. We also export our products to Korea and China to serve their growing commitment to mass transit railcar and bus projects.

While the rest of the world embraces mass transit, Milwaukee truly needs to recognize that the time for a serious commitment to transit is upon us. The proven benefits of transit are strong and clear. Milwaukee leaders need to end their political posturing and gather a community together to formulate an organized transit plan for the betterment of the community."

Maybe it's time for the City and County to sit down together and iron out their differences on how best to use the $91 million. It's been 16 years, after all. Otherwise, perhaps they should think about giving the money back to the federal government. There are other cities that can make a decision.

No comments: