Roads Getting Worse With No Solution

Bad for bikers as well as cars; does Walker have any solution?

By - Feb 17th, 2018 01:06 pm
Orange Barrels

Orange Barrels

There is widespread agreement among Republicans and Democrats that the nation’s infrastructure – particularly its roads and bridges – needs a boost. What they can’t agree on is how to pay for it.

The need for improvement is especially true in Wisconsin where a recent study found our roads ranked 38th (12th worst in the nation) and deteriorating rapidly (we dropped ten spots from the previous ranking).

Now President Donald Trump has introduced what he claims to be a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. But a closer look reveals that there’s only $200 billion in actual federal outlays. The rest is predicated on the idea that private companies (presumably businesses that will build private toll roads) and state and local governments will kick in $7.50 for every dollar the feds spend. And, even at that, the president would spread that investment over ten years, so rapid change it is not.

But because Trump’s plan includes $100 billion over a decade to match state and local investments, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was prompted to suggest that he might consider tolling Wisconsin’s interstate system in order to produce revenue that would attract some of those new federal dollars.

Bike Fed board member and Walker’s former state Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb penned an opinion piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in which he criticized the governor’s proposal as being inefficient and likely to cause vehicles, especially trucks, to find alternative free routes on state highways and local roads, increasing traffic and maintenance costs there. Gottlieb referred to a state DOT study from last year that suggested that 23 cents of every dollar collected through tolls would go to building and administering the tolling system. That same study predicted that about 30% of vehicles would be diverted off the Interstates to state and local roads.

Capitol insiders we talk with see no chance that the tolling proposal or any other new funding source for transportation will be approved before the legislature adjourns next month. And chances for the Trump plan at the federal level don’t seem much better.

The Bike Fed has been supportive of new resources for transportation because cyclists experience bad roads sooner and more acutely than drivers. So, we were happy that the legislature approved an eight percent increase in funding for local road repair in the last state budget. But to maintain that over time will take new state or federal resources and probably both.

For all the noise you may have heard in the last couple weeks about infrastructure investments, don’t look for that issue to be resolved any time soon.

Dave Cieslewicz is the director emeritus of the Wisconsin Bike Fed and former mayor of the city of Madison.

Categories: Biking, Transportation

14 thoughts on “Biking: Roads Getting Worse With No Solution”

  1. Terry says:

    Wisconsin has the 2nd WORST roads in the entire country thanks to dumb as hell Career Politician Scott Walker and republicans! These idiots don’t have a solution because THEY CAUSED the problem as well as the one BILLION dollar dot debt. Thanks for NOTHING Walker and republicans!

    Dump Walker 2018!
    Dump all republicans 2018!

  2. Troll says:

    Rip Van Winkle did you just wake up? Marquette interchange, Zoo interchange, 94 south expansion, repair of the Hoan bridge and the Lake front highway. If the left wanted widening of 94 by Miller Park they would have that investment as well, yet it is more likely that the left wants less road repair and more trolleys.

  3. Tim says:

    The left hasn’t been making decisions on highways for decades.

    The left would have High Speed Rail, free transit to job centers, and would maintain and rebuild the lanes we have, without adding debt for our children to pay.

    The right takes our money, they expand a couple roads while the rest go to $hit. The taxes haven’t gone down and the debt has gone up, up, up.

    Don’t let anyone tell you the two parties are the same.

  4. Troll says:

    Tim, of course your world would have everyone on public transportation and only Santa Claus and the tooth fairy would pay for it. The masses would travel for free!!!. Tim, I guess individuals will have to be forced to give up their vehicles. My sense is you have a little Marxist in you and you would not be bothered by the government confiscating private property.

  5. Tim says:

    I can’t debate a fake world of your imagination. I can feel the terrible roads, see the high taxes remain, and see the debt adding up.

    Who’s benefiting here since it’s obviously not drivers or taxpayers.

    My eyes aren’t lying, WI Republicans don’t know how to run the state. Making their friends richer and playing attack ads, that’s more their strong suit.

  6. Terry says:

    Career Politicians and Trump Toadies like Scott Walker and Wisconsin republicans got drunk on power and drove the state into the ditch! Nice roads republicans! Nice BILLION dollar DOT budger debt on top. Only corrupt and dumb as hell idiots like Walker and republicans could manage to ruin our roads WHILE running up unprecedented debt! Now these fools want to borrow and pass the debt to our children, with interest and sell out another generation.
    They stole our voting rights but we still have one chance left.

    Dump Walker 2018
    Dump Fitzgerald 2018
    Dump Vos 2018
    Dump all these moronic far right wing, freedom and prosperity destroying republicans in 2018!!

  7. Terry says:

    @Troll, take your Nazi sympathizing, White Nationalist enabling, fascist appeasing racist bullsh#t and take a hike!

    Dump Walker 2018

  8. John Casper says:

    @Troll #4

    “Rip Van Winkle did you just wake up?”

    Work on the Marquette interchange was completed two years before Walker was elected Governor.

    When will Gov. Walker’s administration complete the Zoo interchange repairs?

    What do you mean by “94-south?”

    Weren’t the Hoan Bridge’s repairs completed in 2011?

    Why didn’t you mention the new welfare/road construction for Foxconn?

    Why didn’t you mention the FEDERAL funding for high speed rail–would have been a long term solution to I-94 depreciation –that Gov. Walker rejected?

    Are Gov. Walker, Sen. Fitzgerald, and Speaker Vos members of “the left?”

  9. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    I have seen various estimates of Wisconsin roads, from bad to about the middle. Milwaukee’s roads are bad we know that but the new trolley and the Bucks arena will fix that.
    We think the roads are bad especially in Milwaukee county as they shake our cars apart.
    We must fix them. To do that we must deal with the fact that we have an incredible number of hybrids, low cost, high mileage cars, and out right electric cars not paying their way.
    We must develop a system where every car whether it be hybrid, electric, high mileage pays the same amount per mile as the gas fueled vehicles.
    Only we can see that is to pay by the pound at various levels. ie electric cars, the highest, by the pound and average mileage traveled, hybrids by the pound, with reduced rate from electric cars. regular cars by the pound but less as they pay more gas taxes. Same with trucks.
    Toll roads will not be popular in the state.

  10. PMD says:

    Why punish those trying to reduce their carbon footprint and our dependency on fossil fuels? Why not raise fees on people driving Tahoe’s and Expedition’s?

  11. GRNDPAKWH says:

    I just returned from a weekend in Chicago. What a wonderful weekend with easy to use mass transit, pedestrian designed residential streets, and a day’s -free- visit to the Garfield Conservatory.
    I so much prefer the graft and open corruption of Chicago to the behind the back give away in Wisconsin. And before you start about the taxes in Illinois, they get something in return, our taxes simply fade away.

  12. Mike says:

    It seems pretty obvious that we’ve had way too much road intensive sprawl since WW2, and we’ve just reached the point where there are not enough people left that appreciate it enough to re-invest in it.

    The highway warriors can complain all they want, but if they are not willing to open their own wallets, surely the long beaten down residents of traditional walkable neighborhoods aren’t going to toss them a life line.

  13. wilsonpark says:

    This comment bothers me:
    “My sense is you have a little Marxist in you and you would not be bothered by the government confiscating private property.”
    I’m sure troll and most GOP supporters are in favor of the Keystone pipe line a project the needs the U.S governments eminent domain rights to take private land from american citizens and give it to a foreign corporation. But people like me are the “marxists” because we would like our tax dollars used to improve public transit.

  14. John Casper says:


    Nice catch.

    Here’s another example of local and state governments allowing a corporation to “confiscate private property.”

    “Cell tower siting eased by Wisconsin regulation changes: Budget item limits municipalities’ ability to stop projects.”

    “Ed Virnig and his neighbors are angry about plans for a 130-foot cellphone tower that Verizon Wireless wants to build on the edge of their yards in Brookfield, saying it would lower their property values and could be dangerous.

    They say the monopole tower, expandable to 150 feet, would increase the risk of lightning strikes, and that chunks of falling ice and debris could injure or kill children.

    “They are building it right on our property line,” said Virnig, who lives in the Still Point subdivision near Elmbook Memorial Hospital.”

    Troll loves Marx when the socialism is for the elites and the oligopolies. He’s fine with austerity for everyone else.

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