21st Century Transportation

Wisconsin can’t afford more extravagant highway projects, especially when urgent local road repair and transit needs are being neglected. It’s time to get our transportation priorities straight and invest Wisconsin taxpayer dollars wisely, not wastefully.

Highway Waste Undermines 21st Century Transportation in Wisconsin

Demand for transportation alternatives is skyrocketing, and our roads and bridges are crumbling. Yet instead of meeting our changing transportation needs, our state budget continues to funnel billions of dollars into shortsighted new highway projects.

We need a transportation system that reflects and supports the way we want to travel now.

With gas prices up and lifestyles changing, we are driving less and taking transit, walking, and biking more.  The average Wisconsinite drove 500 fewer miles in 2010 than in 2004, and between 2001 and 2009 young people’s travel on public transportation increased by 40% nationwide. Meanwhile, recent reports found that 1,100 Wisconsin bridges are structurally deficient, and 43% of our roads are in “less than good” condition.

By shifting our transportation budget away from expensive new highways, we can invest in efficient public transportation systems like intercity rail and clean bus systems, and make sure that our existing infrastructure is safe and functional for decades to come.

Unfortunately, the highway lobby and big road construction firms won’t easily let go of their high-priced, taxpayer-funded highway contracts. They’ve lobbied hard, and Governor Walker has listened — he has increased spending on new highways at the expense of everything else.

With state leaders considering the next two-year budget, now is the time to fight for Wisconsin’s transportation future. With enough public support, we can overcome the road builders and their lobbyists, and make sure Gov. Walker and state leaders get behind a transportation plan that will best benefit Wisconsin taxpayers.  
 

Issue updates

News Release | WISPIRG | Budget, Transportation

Coalition Urges Budget Committee to Stop I-94 Expansion, Save Taxpayers Hundreds of Millions

In a letter delivered to the state legislature's budget committee, a coalition of 25 statewide and local organizations is urging the Joint Finance Committee not to give the go-ahead to an $850 million expansion of I-94 in Milwaukee currently being considered by the Wisconsin DOT.

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Report | WISPIRG | Budget, Transportation

Wisconsin’s Transportation Budget

As statewide transportation trends change and infrastructure throughout Wisconsin crumbles, demands on the state’s transportation budget are growing. The proposed 2015-17 biennial transportation budget recommends increasing bonding for transportation to a total of $1.3 billion for the next two years, while failing to address crucial transportation needs -- particularly at the local level. Wisconsin needs a more responsible alternative.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Budget, Transportation

As Budget Committee Prepares to Vote on Transportation, Groups Call for Less Debt, More Investment in Local Infrastructure

Wisconsin legislators could save taxpayers half a billion dollars by putting unnecessary highway expansion projects on hold, according to an alternative budget proposal released today by Wisconsin advocacy groups.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget, Transportation

New Report Finds Drivers Pay Less Than Half the Cost of Roads

As state lawmakers prepare to debate Wisconsin’s transportation budget and Congress struggles to renew the federal transportation law, a new report from WISPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group finds that drivers currently pay less than half the total cost of roads nationwide, and argues that while increasing gas taxes could temporarily fill the transportation funding shortfall, it would leave other, deeper problems unaddressed.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Budget, Transportation

Who Pays for Roads?

Many Americans believe that drivers pay the full cost of the roads they use through gas taxes and other user fees. That has never been true, and it is less true now than at any other point in modern times.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Report: Reduction in Driving Likely to Continue

As the average number of miles driven by Americans heads into its eighth year of decline, a new report from the WISPIRG Foundation finds that the slowdown in driving is likely to continue. Baby Boomers are moving out of the phase in their life when they do the most commuting, while driving-averse Millennials move into that phase. These demographic changes will likely keep driving down for decades, according to the report, “A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future.”
 

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Media Hit | Transportation

State needs to build better transportation budget

The state needs a better transportation budget.  . . . .  One promising idea is a proposal from 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, WISPIRG and the state chapter of the Sierra Club to cut 10% from highway spending. The money would be used "to reduce bonding by $200 million, increase local road reimbursements by $82 million, and increase transit funding $21 million (a 10% increase in local road reimbursement and transit funding)," according to a news release the group issued last week.
 

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Media Hit | Transportation

Environmentalists, Municipal Leaders: Let's Fix Roads, Not Build New Ones

Some municipal leaders and environmentalists say Governor Scott Walker's proposed transportation budget is out of sync.
 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

The 10% Solution: A Better Plan for Wisconsin’s Transportation Future

Local elected leaders, municipal representatives from across Wisconsin, and transportation advocates presented a new budget proposal that would cut wasteful highway spending, reduce the structural deficit in the Transportation Fund, help repair and maintain local roads, and restore the devastating 10% cut to transit service approved in the 2011-2013 biennial budget. The proposal was made in response to the executive transportation budget proposal, which would leave local roads and bridges in disrepair, and transit systems underfunded, in order to funnel billions of dollars into highway projects.
 

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Media Hit | Transportation

Is Scott Walker Killing Off Public Transit?

Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed state budget could provide the death knell for public transit systems across the state. Although he has a $419 million budget surplus that he could use to reinvest in state services, Walker is not restoring the $14 million he cut from transit in his previous budget.  Even worse, Walker’s budget makes long-term changes to the way urban bus systems and road projects are funded, which will make transit more vulnerable in the coming years. And, not surprisingly, Walker will increase the funding that goes to road building.
 

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Building Boondoggles?

At a time when the State of Wisconsin is wielding an axe with many public programs and vital transportation services, it appears to be shoveling tax dollars toward four highly questionable highway expansion programs that could cost over $2 billion.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Do Roads Pay for Themselves?

Do roads pay for themselves? This report disproves the common misconception that road-building is paid for by user fees, showing that gas taxes cover barely half the costs of building and maintaining roads, a fraction which is likely to fall steadily.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Track Record of Success: High Speed Rail Around the World and Its Promise for America

Drawing lessons from other countries, a major new report from WISPIRG shows that high-speed rail can boost our economy, save energy, curb pollution and provide a popular alternative to congested roads and airports.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Connecting the Midwest: How a Faster Passenger Rail Network Could Speed Travel and Boost the Economy

A new report puts clear numbers and a clear vision on how high-speed rail will boost the Midwest economey, reduce highway and airport congestion, reduce dependence on oil, and protect the environment.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Road Work Ahead

Drivers in Wisconsin pay an extra $281 per year on car repairs due to highways and bridges in disrepair. A new report released today strongly criticized politicians and policies that favor building new roadways while neglecting existing bridges and roads. The report notes that 43 percent of roads in Wisconsin are in less than good condition and an unsettling 1,207 bridges are structurally deficient.

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