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Wisconsin Roads Ranked Third Worst in Nation

State Rep. Melissa Sargent says the way Wisconsin funds transportation and road building, such as the major reconstruction on the Beltline in Madison, is unsustainable and the state needs a permanent solution. (WI Dept. of Transportation)
State Rep. Melissa Sargent says the way Wisconsin funds transportation and road building, such as the major reconstruction on the Beltline in Madison, is unsustainable and the state needs a permanent solution. (WI Dept. of Transportation)
December 21, 2015

MADISON, Wis. – More than 70 percent of Wisconsin's roads are in poor or mediocre condition, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, which ranks the Badger State's roads as third worst in the nation.

The group also says nearly 2,000 bridges in Wisconsin are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

State Rep. Melissa Sargent says she's hearing about it everywhere she goes in the state.

"People are really concerned about the way it is that we're funding our roads and the fact that right after we completed our state budget we had to go back into extraordinary session and find a way to fund more road work," the Madison Democrat points out.

The legislature decided to borrow $1.3 billion and delayed a number of highway projects.

Sargent says that's like putting the state's transportation future on a credit card and hoping some day it will be paid off. She says the state has to find a long-term solution to adequately fund transportation.

In the past, the state gasoline tax, the main source of revenue for the transportation budget, provided enough money to fund maintenance, repair and construction of new roads.

But now, the gas tax doesn't cover the costs, and Sargent says the present method, using general revenue funds, is short sighted.

"We are now competing with how it is that we're going to pay for our schools, how it is that we're going to train workers, how it is that we are going to continue the infrastructure of our state, because our general funds are being used in our transportation budget and in my opinion that is unsustainable," she states.

Sargent says as Wisconsin's roads become increasingly crowded over the holidays, it's time for both parties to make a New Year's resolution to stop putting transportation on a credit card.

"This is not the Wisconsin that we all are proud of, and we know that we can do better,” she stresses. “We're extraordinary people. We need to push ourselves to the top of the heap rather than the middle or the bottom."


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI