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Press Release: 1000 Friends Calls For Road Audit and Moratorium

Press Release: 1000 Friends Calls For Road Audit and Moratorium

Seeks Halt of All Highway Expansions Until Audit on Traffic Projections is Complete.

1000 Friends of Wisconsin today called for an immediate halt to all new highway widening projects until the state conducts an audit of the traffic projections used to justify those projects. The moratorium and audit request comes on the heels of a federal court decision last week that halted the widening of Highway 23 near Fond du Lac because of unjustified and likely erroneous traffic counts predicted for the highway.

“Faulty planning at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has likely cost taxpayers billions of dollars in unjustified projects,” said Steve Hiniker, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

Last year, the land use group studied traffic projections used to justify 11 state highway projects and found that the average over-count of actual traffic compared to predicted traffic was 75%.

“We call for an immediate, independent audit of all projects that are less 10% complete and an immediate moratorium on these projects until the completion of the audit. Misspending on unjustified highway projects means local transportation needs go unmet. Misspending also has hurt everything from school funding to fire and police protection as scarce general purpose revenues have been diverted for questionable highway projects,” added Hiniker.

Traffic projections are key for many highway expansion projects. The Wisconsin DOT has ignored a decade long trend of traffic trends and continues to predict unrealistic traffic growth as a way of justifying new projects. Typically, WisDOT also claims that widening is necessary for safety when, in fact, widening can make roads less safe by increasing speeds, which, in turn, increases the severity of auto crashes.

Even after cutting local transportation funds, the state’s Transportation Fund doesn’t have enough money to pay for all of the road expansion projects, so lawmakers have increasingly turned to the state general fund to pay for highway projects. This has led to cuts in education spending as well as cuts to all forms of aid for local government from recycling to fire and police protection.

“The misuse of the arcane practice of traffic forecasting has cost Wisconsin taxpayers billions of dollars. It is clear that the legislature must act immediately to protect taxpayers as well local road users,” added Hiniker.

The state budget offers the first opportunity to put Wisconsin on the right track. We have offered an alternative budget that cuts spending on four highway projects that have poor traffic forecasting and would save taxpayers $500 million. Some of those savings could be used to fix local roads which have been neglected by state policy makers for years, “concluded Hiniker.

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Contact: Steve Hiniker,
608.259.1000 x105
608.320.5569 (cell)