1000 Friends of Wisconsin’s new analysis reveals that South Eastern Wisconsin’s local roads are in crisis.
Using data from Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s WISLR road condition database, we found that nearly one in three local roads in the counties of Washington, Racine, Ozaukee, Milwaukee, Waukesha and Kenosha needed immediate repair. Nearly 7,300 miles of local roads in this region, out of a total of 22,000 were classified by WisDOT as fair – which means they have extensive surface or structural damage. Of these, 2,400 miles were in even worse shape, classified as “failed, very poor, or poor”.
Our analysis throws the state’s transportation priorities sharply into relief. WisDOT is planning to spend nearly $850 million on expanding just 3.5 miles of highway in Milwaukee, which is more than the state’s entire yearly highway maintenance and rehabilitation allocation.
Local road aids have declined sharply in recent years. There was a 45% decrease decline in local road going from 317.79 million in 2000 to 174.02 million in 2013. General transportation aids went from 440.73 million in 2000 to 388.35 million in 2013 – a decline of 11.8%. This is in contrast to new highway construction, that went up from 286.65 million in 2000 to 357.59 million in 2013 – an increase of 25%.
In addition, local taxpayers are seeing higher property taxes to fix their crumbling neighborhood streets, due to the state’s unwillingness to invest in their communities with revenues from the gas-tax – communities are eligible to get up to 80% of their local needs met from this.
With every journey beginning and ending at a local road, it is imperative that DOT fix what we need to first, instead of plunging billions of tax dollars into wasteful big-ticket highway expansions that are unnecessary.