News Digest

Converter thefts investigated

The Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office has received more complaints over the weekend of thefts of catalytic converters from under pick-up trucks. The most recent thefts occurred in the Howards Grove area and the town of Sheboygan.

Over the past two months the department began receiving complaints of trucks parked in dimly lit areas having their catalytic converters cut off by the use of some power tool. Trucks parked in lighting were skipped over by the suspect. Trucks, due to their higher ground clearance appear to be targeted due to the ease of getting under the vehicle. The thefts occur during hours of darkness. The department has no leads at this time.

The reports of thefts run from the south county line north to, most recently, Howards Grove.

Catalytic converters are targets of theft due to the value in the precious metals inside of them. It is only suspected that the items are disassembled for the metals and resold at salvage shops. Catalytic converters are targets for theft statewide.

If anyone can help in developing leads on these thefts, they are asked to contact their local law enforcement agency.

Study finds congestion costs

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) has released new data showing that 8 of 20 Milwaukee area freeway segments are so congested that motorists must allow twice as much time to consistently complete their trips during peak travel times as they would under uncongested conditions.

The data is contained in DOT’s first “Travel Time Reliability and Delay” report ( pdf), which details travel time and delay data for urban and rural corridors throughout Wisconsin.

While the report showed some improvements in hours of delay statewide when comparing spring 2013 with spring 2014, user delays and the cost of the delay is significant. During a one-year period, drivers in Wisconsin experienced a total of 7.4 million hours of traffic delay, with a corresponding cost of $226.5 million.

The report uses recorded traffic data to measure the extra time a motorist must plan into their trip to be assured of consistent on-time arrival at their destination during congested travel periods. Segments with high multiples of peak vs. normal travel time are considered “unreliable.”

According to the report, the most unreliable trips are for travel on the Milwaukee area freeway system. For travel westbound on I-894 from the Hale Interchange to the Zoo Interchange motorists must allow nearly 17 minutes in the morning hours to consistently complete what is a sevenminute trip without congestion. Travelers on southbound US 45 from the Waukesha County line to the Zoo Interchange must allow 22 minutes in the afternoon for what is a nine-minute trip without congestion. Planning time indexes for other Milwaukee and Madison area freeway segments are summarized in the report.

DOT is currently studying potential improvements to relieve congestion on two of the most congested segments in the Milwaukee region: I-94 between the Marquette Interchange and the Zoo Interchange, and I-43 between Silver Spring Drive and State 60.

The travel time reliability and delay report is a component of DOT’s MAPSS Performance Improvement Program, which measures key information in the five core goal areas of Mobility, Accountability, Preservation, Safety and Service. Further details on travel time reliability and delay performance measures are available on the MAPSS web site at

State park? There’s an app for that

Smartphone users now have another way to use technology to connect with and explore Wisconsin’s many state parks, forests trails, and recreation areas by downloading a free Wisconsin State Parks and Forests Pocket Ranger App.

The app offers visitors an accessible, comprehensive guide to exploring Wisconsin’s state parks and forests at their convenience.

The app includes descriptions of each park, forest, and trail, along with what amenities it offers, and maps and directions. It includes an advanced GPS mapping feature that will locate the closest state properties, and allow users to take GPS tours, record trail distances and time elapsed, and mark photo waypoints.

The app has a real-time calendar of events, allowing users to search by property, date, and type of event. It also includes a social networking and photo/video sharing feature and a “Friend Finder,” that allows companions to keep track of each other on a trail or at a park or forest.

“By bridging technology with Wisconsin’s beautiful parks and forests, we aim to make it even easier for people to connect with the bountiful outdoor opportunities available in our state,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp in a press release announcing the app.

The Wisconsin State Parks and Forests Pocket Ranger is available on iTunes and Android Market. To download, visit, search keyword “mobile apps.”

Wisconsin State Parks and Forests Pocket Ranger was launched through a public-private partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the State’s portal partner, Wisconsin Interactive Network.

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