La Crosse is Laughing at Milwaukee

An avid listener of Milwaukee talk radio, I’ve been following the debacle of the Milwaukee trolley project, the errand of the fool of a mayor that city has named Tom Barrett.

Few people over here in La Crosse know about the project. But if more of us did, even the Democrats who run this town would pinch the bridge of their nose, look down at the table, and shake their heads at the eye-popping stupidity of the project.

If Milwaukee allows the multimillion dollar boondoggle that is the trolley project to go through to construction, you will be the laughingstocks of the entire state. Here in La Crosse, we’ll forever reserve the right to point at you and laugh with amused superiority.

La Crosse already has a trolley. It harkens back to the olden days in which actual rail-based trolleys, the kind proposed for Milwaukee, shuttled people up and down the streets of the city. Not everyone, after all, could bop around town in horse-drawn carriages, and it was a drag stepping in crap all day.

See more about the La Crosse trolley here.

Let’s compare. The Milwaukee trolley is comparable to spending tens of millions installing retro phone booths all around town. Or commemorative telegraph lines. Or Pony Express stations. Built on an actual rail, the project will require tearing up streets, relocating utility lines, and eliminating valuable parking – all so a select demographic in a relatively upscale segment of the city’s professional population can bar-hop in a cute novelty.

Furthermore, anybody with a shred of objectivity will note that the trolley will snarl traffic, greatly complicate snow removal, and will most likely be dramatically under-utilized when people find out it only goes 8 miles per hour – barely faster than a brisk walk.

It’s a disaster; but it’s even more disastrous to the point of being laughable when compared to the streetcar La Crosse uses. It’s actually a bus. It looks exactly like a streetcar, but it’s significantly less costly to build and maintain. No rails, no relocating anything, no digging up pavement, no traffic snarls, no snow removal issues. It also has the forehead-slapping advantage of flexibility – it can travel a fixed circuit, or it can be appointed to giving speciality tours of our beautiful city as needed during times the normal routes are slow.

And when demographics eventually change, the route can be changed by making a phone call.

People of Milwaukee, listen up. You must stop that trolley, or La Crosse will forever have the right to point at you and laugh at your inconceivable foolishness.

About the writer: Chris Rochester has worked in communications and finance for a state Senate and congressional campaign, consulted on numerous Assembly and local races, and has held leadership roles in his local Republican Party. He's communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.