Oct 5, 201502:40 PMTransportation Matters
with Debby Jackson
Cost of doing nothing adding up
(page 1 of 2)
Here we go. The real life impacts of kicking the can down the road on transportation funding are now being felt. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation recently announced a several year delay of the five most significant improvement projects in Wisconsin other than the Zoo Interchange. Judging from the reaction, people do not seem happy.
The projects are: I39/90 from Beloit to Madison; Hwy. 10/441 in Appleton; Hwy. 23 between Fond du Lac and Sheboygan; Verona Road in the Madison area; and Hwy. 15 near New London. The announcement indicates that each of these projects will be delayed two years.
What is somewhat misleading about that is the two-year delay is a best-case scenario. If the next budget follows the precedent of recent state budgets, those delays will be indefinite. In other words, it will take additional funding in the next budget just to limit those delays to two years.
TDA commissioned the Fiscal and Economic Research Center (FERC) at the University of Whitewater to conduct an economic impact study on four of these affected projects (Hwy. 15 was not included in the study). The research quantifies what many of us know intuitively — these projects will create jobs in the short-term and have a significant positive impact on the economy as a whole in the long-term.
Key findings of the report (available online here) include:
- The projects under study are expected to have a combined, short-term impact on Wisconsin’s economy of close to $3 billion from the construction of the projects.
- The construction activity will lead to over 4,100 jobs in the state from the road construction industry and its suppliers.
- After completion of the projects, businesses will benefit by almost $185 million annually, as a result of increased accessibility, reliability, and road quality.
- The increased business will support in excess of 1,700 jobs moving forward.