MILWAUKEE, October 1, 2010 — Voxometer’s winner for the month of September is Voxometer member, Laura Hartnett-Weiner, or “Queezer”, who suggested that one stimulus-funded road construction project should be finished before the next is begun. Queezer is no stranger to overwhelming road blockage in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and finds it troubling that stimulus funds—especially such large amounts of money—are being used on an inconvenience that limits travel and driving freedom.
“It’s frustrating to not be able to get where you need to be able to go,” said Queezer. “Even the bypasses are torn up.”
The VoxSQUAD jumped right on this suggestion to find out if there is any law putting a cap on the number of construction projects allowed in one area at one time. A call was placed to the US Department of Transportation, who responded that “those types of issues would be worked out between the State and the local communities the development of the State’s and/or metropolitan area’s long range transportation plan, and during the project development process for the individual projects.”
With the finger now pointed at local governments, the local governments are pointing it at residents. Tim Lomax of the Texas Transportation Institute says, "The best solutions are going to be those in which actions by transportation agencies are complemented by businesses, manufacturers and commuters.” Lomax believes collaboration between these residents and the government is the key to successful planning and execution of construction projects. “There's a mindset that says that this is a city government's job or a state DOT's job, but the problem is far too big for transportation agencies alone to address it adequately.”
The VoxSQUAD also got in contact with the US Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, regarding any research or studies being done evaluating road repair. LaHood said there is a department that deals with construction issues such as fixing cracks in the pavement and paint striping, but offered little information about whether too much construction is a concern.
While the construction has undoubtedly provided jobs, the Texas Transportation Institute reports that the cost of construction in 2007 was $82 billion— and this number reflects the costs associated to wasted time and fuel only.
The federal government has also pushed back the deadline for application for funds from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Dianah Ascencio of the Texas DOT stated that Lubbock, Texas just accepted aid at the cost of $6 million for road construction projects that will last through 2011. It wasn’t Lubbock’s intention, however, to begin too many projects at the same time and it was a worry that two projects would be too burdensome. Queezer says, “They have so many projects going on at once that there isn’t even enough manpower to finish them. The program that was supposed to put people to work and stimulate the economy is only aggravating the people that are actually driving.”
“I’m glad other people agree that this is a frustrating problem,” says Queezer. “I can’t wait for it to end.”
Voxometer is the Universal Suggestion Box. The VoxSQUAD’s mission is to provide an outlet for anyone with a suggestion to share it, get it noticed and put it into action.
Media contact: Emily Weiner, Publicity, Voxometer