The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has issued a dire warning about the state’s transportation funding shortfall and mounting pile of projects. The DOT memo, prepared for Secretary David Ross and Deputy Secretary Bob Seitz, says a “tidal wave” of expensive and critical projects is coming and that delaying the work will cost the state more long-term.
However, Gov. Walker, who is opposed to raising the gas tax or vehicle registration fees, is holding his ground. He has said that the state is looking at options for scaling back future road projects to save money and to better respond to changes in technology and transportation habits. For example, the advent of driverless cars, the rise in the use of services like Uber and Lyft instead of car purchases for younger people, and the increase in telecommuting opportunities may mean Wisconsin doesn’t need to build as many highway lanes as it has in the past, Walker says.
With the governor looking for savings and greater efficiency on road projects—as well as proposing the delay of some of these projects—and some lawmakers pushing for tax or fee increases to plug a major shortfall in the transportation fund, this issue will continue to be an obstacle for state budget work this year. Stay tuned for updates.