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.