All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Friday, July 28, 2006

We are not alone!

Anyone see the July 22nd, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article last week, “The grass roots are organizing to save their places from sprawl” by James Rowen? The article highlighted different development projects throughout the southeast part of our state that local residents are less than thrilled about.

One of the groups mentioned in the article is the very organized Highway J Citizens Group .

This Sunday, July 30th, the Highway J group is asking that residents attend a 6pm Citizen Rally at the Town of Richfield’s Town Hall (4128 Hubertus Road—about one mile east of the Highway 164 intersection) prior to Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner’s 7pm Town Hall meeting. They are hoping this rally will put “strong political pressure on” the congressman to take the issues of Hwy 164 expansion and contaminated groundwater seriously.

Bob Collison, 98th State Assembly candidate, will address the citizens rally about various issues including the Hwy 164 four-lane expansion. They are expecting other elected representatives, candidates, conservationists and watchdog groups to be there as well. Come if you can.

Links: and
Weed control links: garlic mustard and garlic mustard's pretty cousin, Dame's Rocket. (It can take over native areas too.) Garlic mustard should be thrown in the trash--do not compost

Monday, July 17, 2006

Calhoun Road: a holistic approach is needed

At a council meeting early in 2006, the Calhoun Road project was sent back to the Public Works Board for further alterations. During that meeting the question was asked: Did the Council ever officially decide what size and type of roadway should be constructed for Calhoun Rd. south of Bluemound? The answer was, No, the council never did vote as a body on what size/type the road should be. Engineering just came up with the plan to meet the maximum future capacity needs. (That is what engineers do. They design the biggest and best there is. Sometimes we don't need to build the biggest and best though.) It was also stated at that meeting that the project could be stopped at any time if a different approach was desired. This fact was repeated last month by Mr. Grisa at a Public Works Board meeting.

I believe the time has come to stop the Calhoun project now and pause to reassess the needs and direction our city is heading for. We should look at road widening in a more holistic manner than just one section at a time. Please consider that most of our main roadways, those that are the major north/south and east/west roads will need some sort of improvement in the near future. This time it is districts 6 & 7 that are affected; next time it could be your district. If memory serves me correctly, Barker Road was slated for a widening and addition of a round-about. Alderman Ponto pleaded for his district, to spare them the unwanted improvement. The plan was scrapped.

Are we prepared to develop and widen all of the major roads to the excessive extent of the current Calhoun plan? Do the taxpayers want to make this a priority or are there other community needs more important to the residents than wider roads? Our recent city survey included a question on schools which are not a city expense but are the most costly to the taxpayer. An overwhelming 72.5% of surveyed residents placed maintaining the quality of schools at a 4 & 5 on the priority scale. I do not see how the taxpayers will be able to improve the high schools and all of our major roads to the expensive extent of Calhoun south. Therefore we should proceed prudently.

Traffic alone does not seem to be the criteria for project prioritization. Many major roads, such as North Avenue, have much higher traffic volume levels over what the roadways were designed to accommodate. Yet these roads have not been given the priority that Calhoun south has. Some of our roads, such as the Mooreland and Bluemound intersection, currently have an “F” rating by the DOT, yet this alone doesn’t stop more traffic producing development from currently being added to this already failing intersection. The DOT warned that even with adding an additional westbound turn lane from Mooreland, the intersection would still fail. Traffic levels on Calhoun Road are not at these excessive levels. So, if traffic alone is not the driving force, why not postpone this project?

There is no question that Calhoun south needs repaving, but does it really need doubling in size? The current price tag of $11million is a hefty chunk for taxpayers to absorb. Engineering has stated that we need to spend this because a simple repaving would be wasting taxpayer money. Grisa commented to a resident, “Building a two lane Calhoun Road for a short time would not be a prudent investment of public resources since widening would still need to be done later at much more expensive cost...”

I really do not understand this logic: he is saying we need to spend $11million now for a road that will last 20 some years, but whose capacity is not needed at the present time. How is this saving us money? (In our houshold, we call that Lucy Ricardo math!) Instead, we could spend about $1.5 million now to repave with some turn lane improvements, which will last about 8 years (present engineering costs included). To simply repave now would buy us time and save us the cost of the I-94 bridge replacement too. During those 8 years we will know what impact the improved Greenfield Ave. (HWY 59) and the completed Brookfield Road will have on Calhoun south. Most importantly we will know what development is approved for VK’s Ruby/WTMJ property. To me, this is the solution that is a “prudent investment of public resources.”

The current plan to widen Calhoun Road south of Blue Mound should be reassessed before proceeding any further with the project. The full impact of the current proposal and other future projects should be reconsidered. We need to look at this from the perspective of how would an expansion of this scope affect every district? How will taxpayers pay for the accumulative costs and interest charges of improving all of these roads to this extent? We should know this before proceeding.
Weed control links: garlic mustard and garlic mustard's pretty cousin, Dame's Rocket. (It can take over native areas too.) Garlic mustard should be thrown in the trash--do not compost

Friday, July 07, 2006

Easter pictures

2008 Referendum pictures

Did the engineer mean "house" or just "shelter"?

Do you ever notice that when it is time to replace your roof, you start noticing roofs wherever you go? You take note of the attractive, the ugly, the old, etc. They were all there before, but now because you are replacing yours, you become aware.

Well, I have been noticing medians. Because the City is insisting that the median width be 24’ wide for the Calhoun South neighborhood, I started to take note of other similar streets and their median widths. Keep in mind that the majority of the area slated for this improvement is older residential with the front of the property facing the road. Every increase in roadway width encroaches closer to these residences front doors! I believe every effort should be made to reduce the impact on these homes, not increase the impact.

At the recent open house, engineers stated that the 24’ median was necessary to “shelter” turning cars. Sheltering is the engineering term for staying out of traffic while you wait to make your turn or cross the remaining half of the roadway. So, just how wide is a 24 foot median? Wide enough to place a 2 car garage on! That is right. 24’ is wider than my roomy 2 car garage. We could not only shelter a vehicle in that median space; we could house 2 vehicles there! My PT Cruiser and Grand Carivan minivan are only 14' and 16.5' in length; why so wide? This is OVERKILL.

For the past month I have traveled from Sunnyslope Rd. to Waukesha on Greenfield Avenue (WIS 59) twice a day between 4 and 6pm. Daily I was struck with the fact that the sections of Calhoun Road under consideration, currently a 25mph residential street south of the freeway and the 35mph section north of I-94, will become wider roadways under the proposed plan than they are on the recently renovated Highway 59. The median on the highway is 18’ wide. If this is enough width for a state highway, surely Calhoun Rd. does not need to be wider. The median is only 14’ in the small divided section of Calhoun near Greenfield—isn’t that enough?

The neighborhood south of the interstate should not have to live with an increase in speed limit to 35mph either. The perception of the road being the same width as some interstates will have a detrimental affect on speed limit--encouraging people to speed there more--once the road changes are made. Studies have been done that affirm this: people gauge their speed not according to limit signs, but to their perception of what kind of road it is. Since it as wide as a highway; they drive like they are on the highway. We already see speeding of 45mph+ on the newly completed Calhoun section. Most Brookfield residents wish to preserve 25mph. Grisa did state in a reply to a resident’s comments that, “the City could post a lower speed if it chose to do so.”

As for the cost of a TWLTL (center turn) lane vs. the 24’ median, Grisa said, “There is additional curb and gutter for a median, but the cost for dirt and grass is minimal, while the cost for asphalt is much higher.” We know curb and gutter is not inexpensive and he does not address the cost of mowing, watering, tending plantings, and pruning trees on the medians. Adding more medians increases these continual labor needs and labor costs vs. a one time material cost for asphalt. The TWLTL also eliminates the need for incessant U turns.

Please share your thoughts and concerns with all of the aldermen. Calhoun south is just the first of many expansion projects for our 35mph streets. If they will all be facing $11million widening projects, I don’t see how our taxes can possibly remain at their present level (not tax rate/$1,000, but level). We will all pay for Calhoun for years to come in dollars; the residents near Calhoun south will pay in loss of quality of life forever. Email the aldermen.

Dan Sutton
Rick Owen
James Garvens
Steve Ponto
Mark Nelson
Gary Mahkorn
Jerry Mellone
Chris Blackburn
Mayor Jeff Speaker,
Public Works Board Members:
Rick Owen – Chairman
Ald. Steve Ponto
Ald. Mark Nelson
Ald. Christopher Blackburn
Ald. Lisa Mellone
Ald. Scott Berg, aldermanic alternate
Weed control links: garlic mustard and garlic mustard's pretty cousin, Dame's Rocket. (It can take over native areas too.) Garlic mustard should be thrown in the trash--do not compost

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Birthday America!

Alexis de Tocqueville, a French nobleman and political scientist, came to America in 1831 seeking to find just what made America so great. This is what he said:
"I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution." But Alexis did not find the cause for America's greatness in any of those assets. It was not until he visited America's churches and heard the preaching of righteousness therein did he, "understand the secret of her genius and power".
He concluded:
"America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!"
We have had an amazing 230 years and I am thankful to have been born in this great country. So, Happy Birthday America: may you continue to be great and good!