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Wisconsin DOT Raises the Cost of Fighting Highway Projects

"Wasteful and unnecessary." That's how citizens of Waukesha and Washington counties in Wisconsin have described a state plan to fill in wetlands for an 18-mile road widening project on Highway 164.

Highway 164 in Wisconsin, as you can see, is in desperate need of widening. Photo: State Truck Tour
Highway 164 in Wisconsin, as you can see, is in desperate need of widening. Photo: State Truck Tour
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But the Highway J Citizens Coalition isn't taking it lying down. Along with an environmental group, they took the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to court and the judge sided in their favor recently, finding that the state's documentation, studies, and hearings for this project had serious flaws.

James Rowen at the Political Environment reports that now the "tone deaf," "arrogant" state agency appears to be making it punitively expensive for these citizens to challenge its actions:

The Highway J Citizens Coalition, (HJCG), had won a significant victory in federal court, but despite the ruling and direction it gave to WisDOT legal project construction and planning, WisDOT is picking a further fight with the coalition by charging it more than $10,000 in advance for public records as the case continues.

The coalition says in a major filing Monday with Madison prosecutors that WisDOT is withholding the records in part because it doesn't like how highway critics have portrayed WisDOT.

So much for transparency. No wonder the Wisconsin Department of Transportation keeps getting sued by state residents.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The State Smart Transportation Initiative explains how Virginia DOT is rethinking some of its core assumptions, and how it could have a big environmental, social and fiscal impact. People for Bikes reports the state of California will endorse the NACTO street design guide. And A View from the Cycle Path argues that "shared space" street designs prioritize drivers over pedestrians and cyclists.

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