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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.


Old to new | New to old
Oct 17, 2015 09:33 am
 Posted by  Matt Logan

"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."

Just to clear this up, TDA staff told me you should not interpret the above statement as suggesting there is a net benefit to the state if we moved forward on these projects. The lead researcher on the report informed me that a "partial equilibrium model" was used - that only looks at some of the impacts.

Oct 17, 2015 09:39 am
 Posted by  Matt Logan

"Anyone who thinks we are saving taxpayer money by ignoring, deferring, and delaying is sadly mistaken."

What I think is that maybe we should be thinking about cutting. National studies show declining returns on investment for highway spending, with the return dropping below the costs of financing in 2005. If you were to look at a histogram of returns versus number of projects with that return, I imagine you would see something like a bell curve. Now imagine drawing the line of the costs of financing over that curve. Any project to the left of that line is dragging down the state's economy, and we should be looking to trim such projects. This trimming would both save taxpayer money, and grow the economy.

Oct 20, 2015 11:59 am
 Posted by  Matt Logan

My Response:

Feb 18, 2017 06:48 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

At some point, after Scotty has been elected 19 times by the remaining residents, the state will be a giant pot hole. One fine day Scotty will accidentally drive into that pot hole. There will be no 911 to call because Scotty defunded fire and police, except his personal detail. All 17 of his detail will perish. He will be utterly alone and friendless but alive. His long, curved up nose, bald spot and beady little rat eyes will peek out feverishly from the muck and concrete that used to be a road. His body, old and frail, too weak (as always) to crawl his way out. Up to his neck in trouble. The Democrats did this Scotty mumbled to no one. The forest surrounding the once useful highway begins to show its residents. They licked their chops and whispered "its ALEC. ALEC* has brought us dinner". EAT HIM UP, EAT HIM UP! they rumbled. Terrified, Scotty starts to pray and pray and pray some more. And the evangelical God says, did you help the poor Scotty? Did you ok Medicaid Scotty? Do you steal from the schools and the teachers Scotty? Did you wreck the unions and steal on average $6000 per year from each member of the middle class Scotty? Did you gerrymander Scotty? Did you steal votes thru voter ID laws Scotty? Did you cheat on your wife Scotty?? You say NOBODY would have you?? Ha. Guess what Scotty? I won't have you either. You see, my hell is overflowing with the likes of you. Pretty pathetic when there is no room in hell. And heaven? well that is reserved for atheists and agnostics. People who weren't so smug about being a know it all "christian". So you see Scotty, in my world, heaven or hell, there is NO place for the likes of you. And now, as you did to others, will be done to you. As you always wanted, enjoy the spoils of *ALEC -- American Legislative Exchange Council. Look it up folks. ALEC

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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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