Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Streetsblog

Two Ways to Sustain Wisconsin’s Highway Racket: Tolls or Crushing Debt

It's the 1950s all over again in Wisconsin, where -- as we've reported before -- there seems to be an undying faith among political leaders that highway spending will restore prosperity, despite the fact that more forward-thinking regions are investing in things like tearing down highways.

false

Since Scott Walker became governor, touting himself as a fiscal conservative, Wisconsin has embarked on a bonanza of highway spending, including a $1.7 billion interchange, a $207 million highway expansion, and a $25 million "interchange to nowhere."

This week, "budget conscious" state leaders pulled the trigger on a $715 million highway widening that the State Journal called "one of the most expensive highway projects in state history."

James Rowen at The Political Environment skewers the sheer recklessness of it all and questions whether electeds have the stomach to actually pay for the highway binge.

It's an open-and-shut case. Just get us some new lanes and screw the price - - which does not appear on the official WisDOT Q&A web page for the project, because cost is not a real part of the discussion.

Can we afford it? Not important: Just build it and charge it. knowing the full cost gets buried in the fine print of out-year budgets long after the eight years of construction has ended and everyone is distracted by the new lanes and 'improvements' grabbing our attention elsewhere.

But it's a real question. Because this time the state's share is growing to 30%, a lot more than the typical 10-20%, with the federal government picking up a smaller share of the tab.

How about the State Legislature - - now content to bill residents through stiff per-gallon gas and other taxes, and bonding interest - - instead talked up and bought into tolling the road to come up with some of the state's $200+million share - - and also collected tolls to pay for the 'routine' annual maintenance, plowing, patrolling and repairing costs no one ever adds to projects' bottom lines.

Tolls, anyone? I didn't think so.

Elsewhere on the Network today: M-Bike.org reports that city leaders in Detroit have an "aggressive" plan to add bike infrastructure. Missouri Bicycle Federation introduces the concept of sustainable street certification, like LEED for streets. And Flat Iron Bike discusses how standard liability in car wrecks is inappropriate in an age of car sharing.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Wednesday’s Headlines: Four for Fifth Edition

The good news? There's a new operator for the Fifth Avenue open street. The bad news? It's four blocks, down from 15 last year. Plus other news.

April 24, 2024

MTA Plan to Run Brooklyn-Queens Train on City Streets a ‘Grave’ Mistake: Advocates

A 515-foot tunnel beneath All Faiths Cemetery would slightly increase the cost of the project in exchange for "enormous" service benefits, a new report argues.

April 24, 2024

Full Court Press by Mayor for Congestion Pricing Foe Randy Mastro

Pay no attention to that lawyer behind the curtain fighting for New Jersey, the mayor's team said on Tuesday, channeling the Wizard of Oz.

Tuesday’s Headlines: Valley of Political Death Edition

Did you see the new poll showing congestion pricing is really unpopular? Ignore it! Good times are coming. Plus other news in today's headlines.

April 23, 2024

Open Streets Groups Warn of Extra Red Tape to Run Events

Two weeks notice for hopscotch or a yoga class?

April 23, 2024
See all posts