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Feb 2, 201608:50 AMTransportation Matters

with Debby Jackson

Fixing Wisconsin's highways

(page 1 of 2)

The state of transportation in Wisconsin is not as strong as it needs to be.

I am not alone in this assessment. The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance released a 2015 report card for Wisconsin in which it graded 23 different areas of the state from per capita personal income to energy costs to graduation rates. The area that received the worst grade was the condition of our highways, in which Wisconsin received a “D” grade.

The state’s road are lacking by comparison as well. The U.S. Department of Transportation posted a fact sheet titled Road and Bridge Data by State, which shows 71% of Wisconsin’s roads are in mediocre or poor condition. That places Wisconsin 47th out of 50 states.

So what if our roads are a little bumpy to drive over and hard to look at, you might say. We have more important things to tend to like creating jobs.

Well, if we want to attract and retain businesses that create jobs, we are likely neglecting their number-one priority. In a national survey of CEOs and consultants ranking factors for choosing where to locate, access to highways scored as the most important factor (a skilled workforce ranked number two). It’s no wonder when you consider the fact that transportation comprises 50% to 80% of supply chain costs.

Why are we faring so badly when it comes to our roads? At the local level, cities, towns, and counties are able to repair and replace fewer miles of road each year due to stagnant state funds. In many instances, replacement schedules now exceed twice the number of years for which the roads were engineered. As for our major highways, some of our most pressing improvement projects continue to be delayed and shelved for the same reason.


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Feb 2, 2016 01:44 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Stangnant State Funds?

Funding has been exploding:

"In a national survey of CEOs and consultants ranking factors for choosing where to locate, access to highways scored as the most important factor"

Ok, but is that access to the fattest possible highways that our exploding funding can produce, or is that just well maintained highways? Because it is the fattening of those highways that is absorbing all the increased funding for transportation. In fact, 15% of highway spending in the current budget is for expansions.

There is plenty of money available for transportation - but it is being spent inefficiently. Of course, inefficient spending is great if your paycheck depends in part on how much money you can get for highway contractors.

Feb 6, 2016 11:02 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

And then there is the mounting evidence that trying to poach jobs from other states with lavish highway spending isn't a productive use of money:

I am looking forward to your next half-truth-laden post about transportation. Rest assured, I will be here to provide the other 50% of the story for you.

Mar 10, 2016 09:12 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Let me predict what will come next: You are going to tout WISDOT's latest study on increasing congestion in the state as proof that we need more investment in state highways. You will deliberately omit the fact that much of the growth in delay-hours is due to the addition of HWY 41 to the interstate system. You will not question how the principles of induced demand and triple-convergence associated with past highway expansions have produced the increase in congestion.

Further, you will not delve into the question of whether that delay is caused by people moving further and further out from where they work, and thus forcing themselves into being exposed to more delay. And of course, there will be no mention of how fresh pavement laid as a result of this study will exist well beyond the time that self-driving car technology, freeing drivers to be productive while in transit, invalidates the entire delay argument.

Mar 12, 2016 11:27 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Mr. Thompson, please explain this:

It seems to show that annual spending increased by 14% (from 1.4 bil to 1.6 bil) over the last decade in constant dollars. We care currently spending 15% of the highway budget on expansions. Why are the expansions more important that maintaining the roads we already have?

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About This Blog

 Debby Jackson assumed the role of executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin after more than 15 years with the organization. In addition to her vast experience in association management and transportation advocacy, Jackson has a background in business. She leverages the breadth and depth of her professional experience, along with her knowledge of the membership and mission of TDA, to be a strong voice for robust transportation infrastructure in Wisconsin. Jackson started her career as a staff auditor with Price Waterhouse, which led to a series of accounting and corporate management positions with a major national retailer.

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