State Sen. Jon Erpenbach

Time to Revisit Transportation Funding Solutions

71 percent of Wisconsin's roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition.

By - Sep 25th, 2015 01:24 pm
Road Closed. Photo by Dave Reid.

Road Closed. Photo by Dave Reid.

Now that Governor Scott Walker has quit the presidential race it is time to revisit the many issues that held up the Wisconsin State Budget because of his presidential ambition. One of the largest is transportation funding. Transportation funding has not just been flat over the past few budgets it has been bleeding and pulling money from the general fund just to fill pot holes. Our state funding commitment to roads is horrible for nearly every community in the state. We need a long term solution so that we can fix roads, replace roads, and repeal the delays in mid-stream projects. The US Department of Transportation and the National Engineers Association found Wisconsin had the third worst roads in the entire country.

One of those delayed mid-stream projects is the Verona Road project. Another is the I-90 project. Both are essential corridor projects for southern Wisconsin. We know project delays force taxpayers to pay more. Not only will the businesses along the corridor suffer longer because of the delay, motorists who travel every day see more delays, and every single taxpayer in the state will pay more for the project because of the delays. It is time to stop robbing Peter to pay Paul and for the Majority to have the guts to implement a long term transportation solution.

It is not just the delayed projects and those communities that suffer, it is projects all over the state from rural roads, county highways, Main Streets and state highways. There is not a shortage of funds in the state budget. There is a shortage of funds in the transportation budget. This segregated fund budget is supposed to be self-sufficient. However the last three budgets the transportation budget has pulled from the general fund just to try to support some of the scheduled maintenance and projects. Even the Governor acknowledged we have a transportation crisis in our state. He asked his Sectary of Transportation to bring partners to the table to find a long term solution. They found many solutions, some of which were even palatable to the majority of the Legislature. However, presidential politics put a stop to all funding ideas.

Wisconsin is rated third worst in the nation for highway infrastructure with 71 percent of roads in poor or mediocre condition. This is not just a failure to finance by Republicans who were willing to put off projects in their own district because they were supporting their Governor, this is dangerous for travelers and bad for business.

Transportation was the last agency budget we passed in the Joint Committee on Finance because my colleagues and I from both sides of the aisle desperately tried to come up with a presidential palatable solution. That did not happen. It is time to commit to transportation funding so we can reverse delays, get these roads fixed, create some construction jobs and protect businesses all over our state.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, is a member of the Wisconsin state Senate.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

4 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Time to Revisit Transportation Funding Solutions”

  1. Beer Baron says:

    We have an unquestioned surplus or roads in this state. The only way to fix it is to take a census of usage, take the urban areas and encourage alternatives to driving (transit, bikes, etc.) and start to take down the surplus of roads. Getting rid of road capacity, encouraging people in urban areas to talk alternate modes of transportation, banning further expressway development and raising gas taxes and implementing tolls are the only way we’re going to fix this.

  2. Tyrell Track Master says:

    There is no question that there are TOO MANY roads. However we can still fix the holes and built more transit if we simply RAISE THE GAS TAX. It’s mind numbing that we can’t get that done.

  3. David Ciepluch says:

    Roads with pot holes and bumps can wreck tires and suspension systems costing well over $1,000. Flat tires while driving can cause accidents and loss of life.

    Raise the gas tax and fix existing roads and support transit and bike and recreation trails. Borrowing a billion to build new roads is the ultimate in stupidity and fiscal irresponsibility.

  4. mbradleyc says:

    I have been to and seen so many wonderful places in this country in my car, on roads.

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