Citizen Journalist: Adopt-a-Stimulus-Project

Road Construction
Image by ahhyeah via Flickr

Last week, I signed up to participate in ProPublica’s Adopt-a-Stimulus-Project.

I adopted a portion of State Street from 17th to 27th Street.  My first task was to find out when the project is supposed to start.

Turns out that the project is still out for bid so we don’t know yet who is going to do the work and when they’ll start.

Turns out that’s also the case for another nine projects approved for the city of Milwaukee.  Two of them are in the bidding phase; the other seven don’t yet have the specs done yet so can’t yet go out for bid.

So while there are some people working as a result of this “Surface Transportation Allocation” from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, they are mostly people who are working anyway (city engineers, regional and state legislative staff, web masters trying to keep the information available to the public).

Still none of the $15.2 million allocated from Wisconsin‘s stimulus funds to pay for resurfacing and repairing roads in the city of Milwaukee have been spent.  So no jobs created there.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has provided some coverage of the decision-making process.  A look at what might be characterized as a “tortuous” process and you begin to understand why money allocated in January for the express purpose of putting people to work ASAP has still not been spent.

However, when I talked to the city engineer, Jeff Polenske, he made a reference to the process going through “quickly.”  And perhaps it has.

I haven’t looked long enough at this (I’m volunteering after all) to come to any conclusions about whether or not stimulus funds meant for other road projects in Wisconsin are moving ahead. Northern Milwaukee, southern Ozaukee, and southern Washington County residents are seeing some projects moving ahead.  There, the decision-making process was accelerated by DOT:

The state Department of Transportation, by contrast, focused on another stimulus priority: selecting projects that could start quickly and put people to work right away. As a result, state officials started pushing to spend $7.5 million immediately on two highways in Germantown and a bridge in River Hills. They later broadened their list to cover $8.8 million in Milwaukee projects and $17.7 million in suburban projects, including those in Germantown and River Hills.

The ProPublica project is trying to answer, on a national scale, what’s happening with the stimulus funds.  Stay tuned.

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