Privatizing Public Roads

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 20th, 2012 1 response

Today, in preparation for the third edition of the Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin map I was in the Burlington area checking routes shown on previous maps, including the roads the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has designated as Rustic Roads.

I was very surprised then to see a “dead end” sign at the intersection of one of these rustic roads, the Hoosier Creek Road. I took the road nevertheless and found that it had indeed been made dead end. A substantial section had been torn up and no trespassing signs posted. It appeared that the former public road had been handed over to private interests.

Both ends of the road still sport Rustic Road signs and it still appears on the DOT’s map as a through route.

I have never seen this before, where a public road was closed and converted to private interests. I wonder if this is legal. On my way home I kept thinking of Putin’s Russia where people who are politically well-connected can obtain public enterprises and become very wealthy.

I sent an email to the DOT and will report any response.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

One Comment to “Privatizing Public Roads”

  1. Matt Says:

    Public roads sometimes get abandoned to private interests. A local Twin Cities example is the road by the refinery that used to connect to the swinging J.A.R. bridge that is at about 66th St in South St Paul. Once the bridge was closed, the road on the east side went to the refinery (not sure if abandoned or sold) and is now in private hands. It’s not quite the same thing as dead-ending a Rustic Road, but is another example.