Supervisor Alexander, Borkowski Urge Streetcar Opponents Not To Give Up
Board Members Say to Change the Plan or Return the Funds
Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander said today that federal funding for the streetcar was dedicated for that use only and can only be reallocated by an act of the U.S. Congress. Alexander said she has had discussions with both City of Milwaukee Ald. Bob Donovan, who opposes the streetcar, and Ald. Robert Bauman, who supports it.
“I’ve been told that to use federal funding for local streets and pothole repair would be unprecedented. I agree that while that is the preferred option and what we need, it would be unlikely,” Alexander said. “Laws get changed all the time, so I don’t think it is out of the question, but I do think it would take a tremendous effort on the part of local officials.”
Supervisor Mark Borkowski said the entire streetcar project is “a massive waste of taxpayer money,” and he added that the project should be scrapped and that the federal money should be returned.
“Why are we building this thing?” Borkowski said. “No one wants it except the Mayor, and it goes nowhere. It ultimately will prove to be a massive waste of resources.”
Alexander agrees with those who think the streetcar is “misguided” and urges the public to not give up hope on moving for a more sensible plan. “Gov. Scott Walker has issued a statement in response to requests for intervention on the streetcar issue, indicating that he will support whichever position the Mayor and the County Executive agree to,” Alexander said.
“I think there is great room for agreement and forward movement if those officials, with the Governor’s support, could explore options for an alternate transit plan that would actually address some of Milwaukee’s most pressing issues like lack of access to jobs and poor minorities being stuck on an economic island. Perhaps Congress will recognize that the streetcar to nowhere is a waste of resources when local leaders agree on an alternative plan for use of the funding.
“If the current streetcar plan could be altered to best use dollars allocated for transit to actually address our issues, I might be able to support it,” Alexander said. “However, if we don’t have a viable long-term plan for fast and pragmatic transit that actually helps the people who depend on transit the most, and if that plan will not have the necessary funding for long-term maintenance and operation, I will support declining the federal funding.”