The Wisconsin Department of Transportation wants to expand I-39/90 from Madison to the Illinois border to a whopping six lanes. Frankly, this makes about as much sense to me as does the Pabst Farms interchange project in Milwaukee: none at all.
Though they've come down from their recent extreme highs, I really doubt that gas prices are going to come down so much that we as a nation return to our big gas guzzling cars and frivolous drives to get our mail at the end of the driveway any time soon (if ever). Studies point to a major decrease in the amount of miles Americans are driving, politicians are finally getting the memo about properly funding things like public transportation and walkable/bikeable neighborhoods, and the general trend, though at times frustratingly slow to take hold, is toward a better mix of transportation modes.
Why, then, spend hundreds of millions of dollars on an interstate expansion? The project also includes plans to upgrade old bridges, which I'm all for, but the part where they intend to make it six lanes is, I believe, ridiculous. That money could be better spent on more crucial infrastructure improvements--like the bridges, preexisting roads that are in sorry shape, bike lanes, sewer upgrades, etc.
To say nothing of aesthetics. Big, sprawling interstates are ugly, and the construction of them tends to tear up farm land and countryside, and cause more polluting runoff.
And anyway, should we really be encouraging more vehicles to be on the road? WisDOT is holding public meetings in two locations where anyone can come see and hear about the plan, and offer their input. I'm hopeful that there will be enough reasonable questioning of the lane expansion that it gets scrapped, but then the cynical part of me has been watching what's going on in Milwaukee and isn't so sure that reason plays as big a role as it should when it comes to decisions like this.