Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Numbers Game

Those of you averse to change may want to cover your ears--it sounds like Highway 41 won't be 41 after it becomes an interstate in a couple of years.  We had a news conference hosted by the DOT yesterday to talk about raising weight limits for trucks once the conversion takes place in 2014--when a far more interesting topic came up.

DOT officials--while saying nothing is set yet--admitted that Interstate 41 likely won't be the designation for the stretch running from Milwaukee to Green Bay.  The more likely options will be I-443 or I-694--or possibly I-43B.  All of those designations are kind of an insult if you ask me--as they make the main thoroughfare in the Fox Valley sound like an airport spur or a bypass. 

You would think that going from Highway 41 to Interstate 41 would be a no-brainer--but it's not even the State of Wisconsin's decision to make.  A bureaucratic entity in Washington DC known as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials will make the decision.  And you know the more levels of government involved in making a decision, the less likely an intelligent choice will be made.

To be fair, AASHTO does have a set of guidelines that it has to use.  The lowest Interstate numbers are used in the west--with the higher numbers in the east.  North-South Interstates get odd numbers--East-West routes get even numbers.  Senator Herb Kohl suggested I-12 yesterday--in honor of Aaron Rogers.  Too bad Wisconsin would have to be moved into the Rocky Mountains and turned on its side to get that low-number, east-west designation.  (And as owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, shouldn't the Senator have suggested I-33 in honor of Kareem Abdul Jabbar?  C'mon--no wonder the state doesn't give two rat's behinds about the Bucks if the owner doesn't even think about them!)

I can already imagine the chaos that will ensue if somthing other than I-41 is ultimately chosen.  People living along the corridor will continue to give people directions like "take 41 North to exit whatever"--leading to mass confusion as people can't seem to find a "Highway 41" anywhere.  Eventually, the term "Highway 41" will become a dividing line between generations--kind of like the old-timers in Oshkosh that call it the "Fly-In" instead of "EAA Airventure". 

We all know that change is inevitable--and so is everyone complaining about it.

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