The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is having a tough time justifying new highway projects when highway use is down. So now they have a new tactic – denial. They simply deny that traffic is down – and they have issued a “fact sheet” to promote their view.
The Wisconsin State Journal in a news article this week states that the state will be short $15.3 billion over the next decade” largely because more fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrids and electric cars, are eroding state revenues from the gas tax, the largest source of state transportation funding.” These statements have been repeated by DOT officials, media publications and transportation professionals – blaming more efficient cars and electric vehicles for the precipitous fall in state transportation revenues. While this is no-doubt true, this is definitely not the main reason why fuel tax revenues are dropping.
Nearly 32,000 Americans die each year from traffic accidents. This is the equivalent of a fully loaded jumbo jet crashing each week. Highway engineers go through the morbid exercise of trying to estimate the number of inevitable deaths on any section of roadway they design. Putting this in context – wouldn’t it be ludicrous if an architect estimated that a certain number of people would inevitably die annually as a direct result of using a building she designs?
Wisdot’s Purpose and Need Document for the I 43 N-S corridor projects an increase of traffic on freeway segments (2010-2040) that varies between 32% and 39% based on population projections and an average annual traffic growth rate of 0.93%.
Our filing cites clear and overwhelming evidence that a fundamental shift in driving habits is underway and the WisDOT chooses to ignore this reality. We also take issue with WisDOT’s notification of the “public information meeting” on the Highway 23 expansion project. WisDOT claimed in their public notice that the construction phase of Highway 23…