To many people in Madison, the road to hell is lined with streetcar tracks. And tomorrow, the City Council will decide whether to put Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's former pet project to public referendum on the April 3 ballot.
The resolution to send the streetcar issue to referendum, sponsored by Ald. Santiago Rosas, District 17, and Ald. Paul Skidmore, District 9, comes on the heels of the mayor's request to get Madison residents' approval for the project. However, Mr. Cieslewicz envisioned that the issue would be voted on by the public after the completion of the $300,000 streetcar study — which is slated to be finalized sometime over the summer.
Mayor Dave strongly pushed the idea of bringing streetcars back to Madison, citing the flourishing city's needs and looming increases in the amount of traffic on and around the isthmus.
While the haste in which the mayor abandoned his sweetheart streetcar project is remarkable — he stood behind the idea for several years — it is up to speculation whether the move was a means to gain a surer footing in his bid for re-election in April or if it was simply in response to the outpouring of criticism.
We vehemently disagree with the notion of placing a binding streetcar referendum on the April 3 ballot; to put the issue to vote so prematurely would be a flagrant waste of the money already spent on the feasibility study.
Furthermore, whether a plan that requires acute knowledge of traffic flow, engineering and growing cities should be left up to the general public is questionable, especially considering the historically dismal prospects of pricey referendums, regardless of how beneficial they could be for the city in the future.
We urge the members of City Council to wait until the feasibility study is published so they — and the general public — can have a better idea of what bringing streetcars to Madison could mean for taxpayers and commuters alike.
For the record
Unfortunately, this editorial was crafted with insufficient direct contact with members of the City Council, and we apologize for the error. Though the proposed referendum is advisory, we maintain the public should wait for the results of the costly streetcar study in order to make a more informed decision on the matter.