Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett have set aside their differences long enough to cooperate on a multi-million dollar road project in Milwaukee.
Governor Walker has already proposed funding for renovating Milwaukee's Hoan Bridge in his budget; now, he has agreed to wrap a further $16 million into the project to move freeway ramps at the north end of the bridge. Doing so will jibe with Milwaukee and Milwaukee County's street plan to better connect downtown Milwaukee and its arts district to lakefront parks and museums, and free up some land for a developer that wants to put in a 44-story building.
Republican Walker says there were no political problems working with the Democrat-heavy Milwaukee.
"I think in many ways, it's real easy because this isn't a Republican or Democrat issue. This is just about development. It's about opening up one of our biggest assets, not only in the city but in the entire state."
Walker says his team mainly worked with Milwaukee's development director, whom the governor knew when he was Milwaukee County Executive. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the city, county and state found common ground.
"And the result of that is very positive. So I'd like to see more opportunities for the state, the county and the city to work together, because when we're working together, then we can move things forward, and that's I think what everybody wants to see happen."
The deal announced today is not free of potential controversy. Land conservationists contend the high-rise project violates the state's public trust doctrine limiting private development near waterways like Lake Michigan. And, though Barrett denies there will be a problem, all the lakefront road construction in the next few years could affect people who attend Summerfest and other lakefront festivals.