As Scott Walker hands Wisconsin over to the executives of a company most famous for having to put up suicide nets so that its workers don’t kill themselves, it’s only appropriate that the state just hands over the keys to the company’s desires. What could be more New Gilded Age?
Spurred by Foxconn Technology Group and its plans for a mega-factory in Racine County, state highway planners are studying the possibility of including special lanes for driverless vehicles on I-94.
Should that come to pass — and at this point it is only something being contemplated — it would put Wisconsin in the vanguard of what many believe will be a key part of transportation in the future.
Driverless cars have been developed and are being tested, but there are no highway lanes dedicated to so-called autonomous vehicles, a spokesman with the U.S. Department of Transportation said.
Word of the possible development here emerged Monday from Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, as he spoke at a meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee on the challenges the region faces in preparing for Foxconn.
Among those challenges are increased traffic and the problem of getting huge numbers of workers — Foxconn says it will employ as many as 13,000 — to a semi-rural area 8 miles west of downtown Racine and more than 20 miles from downtown Milwaukee.
But with state money earmarked to widen I-94 to eight lanes and plans in place to improve local roads, Sheehy said regional officials “thought we were ahead of the curve” on traffic issues.
Then they briefed Foxconn on the accomplishments.
“And we were all dumbstruck,” Sheehy said, “when they looked at us and said, ‘So where’s the autonomous vehicle lane?’”
Maybe we can tax drivers to support Foxconn’s private lanes? Or maybe we can give Foxconn executives 50% of our gruel?