More than a third of Wisconsin’s 115,000 miles of drivable roads are considered to be in fair or below condition by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The ASCE gives Wisconsin an overall C grade when it comes to infrastructure in the state. Conditions they say will only get worse if something isn’t done soon.
ASCE Fellow Martin Hanson says with proper funding road conditions in the state can be improved, but it will take a lot of money over many years.
“We’re probably talking in the area of billions of dollars to really raise the grade up to a B and that’s impractical to do in one year, so this is not an instant fix in one budget, but I think we need to at different revenue streams besides just the gas tax and vehicle registration fee,” said Hanson.
Governor Evers budget plan calls for more than $565.6 million of federal and state funds to be invested into major highway programs. Rather than increase taxes or fees, Evers wants to use bonding to support road budget.
Hanson would like see lawmakers update the gas tax.
“One of the things I remain concerned about is that in the transportation fund, the last legislative action for gas tax was done in 1997,” said Hanson. “They haven’t done anything in over 20 years and this budget continues to ignore upgrading that system.”
In the long run Hanson says poor road conditions end up costing drivers more.
According to the report put out by ASCE, those roads conditions are costing Wisconsin drivers $6 billion a year due to wear and tear on vehicles, wasted fuel, and crashes.
“The transportation systems cost users money by not fixing them,” said Hanson. “We’re soon to enter pothole season this spring which will pay a toll on a lot of suspension systems. Congestion delay not only for commuters, but for also freight tends to increase cost of consumer goods.”
The report also says much of Wisconsin’s infrastructure requires capacity or maintenance upgrades or is reaching the end of its expected lifespan.
The ASCE report breaks down different types of infrastructure, giving each one a grade.
Roads and transit get the lowest grades at D+.
ASCE calls for an increased, dedicated source of transportation funds to defray local transit costs and ease the property tax burden on Wisconsin residents.
It says there is an estimated $13 billion shortfall over the next decade if roadway improvements are not funded.