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

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 | Transportation

WISDOT Disregards Community Opposition, Declining Driving, Proposes to Waste Taxpayer Money on Unneeded I-94 Expansion

Today, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced that its preferred alternative for the I-94 East-West Corridor is an “at-grade” expansion. With traffic counts declining in the corridor, any expansion is unnecessary and will waste taxpayer money, while diverting resources away from other critical infrastructure repairs, including fixing bridges and potholes on local roads.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

The Innovative Transportation Index

This report reviews the availability of 11 technology-enabled transportation services – including online ridesourcing, carsharing, ridesharing, taxi hailing, static and real-time transit information, multi-modal apps, and virtual transit ticketing – in 70 U.S. cities. It finds that residents of 19 cities, with a combined population of nearly 28 million people, have access to eight or more of these services, with other cities catching up rapidly.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

As Federal Highway Administration Acknowledges the Driving Boom is Over, Will WISDOT Follow Suit?

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has quietly acknowledged that the Driving Boom is over, cutting its forecasted driving estimates by between 24 percent and 44 percent.  Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT) continues to forecast increases in driving that aren’t materializing - a policy that risks wasting billions of taxpayer dollars. WISDOT is also claiming a $680 million shortfall in current transportation funding, a significant portion of which is to accommodate unnecessary expansions of highway capacity. 

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

Coalition Unveils Better Solution for I-94 East-West Corridor

Two weeks after WISDOT issued a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that proposes two costly and wasteful highway expansion options for the I-94 East-West corridor – a coalition is offering a new alternative aimed at enabling 21st century mobility in the corridor and developed by a 25-year transportation planner and NJ DOT veteran.  

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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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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

Governor Walker’s Transportation Budget Pushes Back Against The Highway Lobby, But Doesn’t Go Far Enough

We applaud Governor Walker’s call for a review of major highway projects to identify unnecessary taxpayer expenditures, yet his budget simply does not go far enough in cutting unnecessary new highway projects and continues to lavish money on road builders.

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News Release | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Report: Population, Transportation Trends Suggest Wisconsin’s Highway Spending a Folly

A new report released by the WISPIRG Foundation found that Wisconsin’s extravagant highway spending plans are out of touch with Wisconsin’s slow population growth and transportation trends.  The report, Highway Boom, Budget Bust, shows Wisconsin, compared to other states, plans to spend a high percentage of limited transportation funds on new roads and highway expansion projects, despite the fact that Wisconsin’s population growth is projected to grow at a relatively slow pace and its volume of driving is decreasing per-capita.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

Transportation Commission Report: “Mixed Blessing for Taxpayers and Commuters”

WISPIRG comments on the Final Report to the Governor and Legislature of the Wisconsin Transportation Finance and Policy Commission.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Report Shows Driving Down In Wisconsin

Since the year 2000, Wisconsin has seen a 2% increase in those without a driver's license under age 30. (from 14 to 16 percent) A new report questions whether transportation spending is out of step with how people--especially younger ones-- are getting around.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

The Right Track

This report analyzes the potential of high speed rail in nine different regions, including the Midwest, and presents eleven public-interest recommendations for how to spend high speed rail investments in the future. According to data cited in the report, the completion of a national high-speed rail network would reduce car travel by 29 million trips and air travel by nearly 500,000 flights annually.

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Report | WISPIRG | Transportation

What We Learned from the Stimulus

The latest data on stimulus spending show that funds spent on public transportation were a more effective job creator that stimulus funds spent on highways. In the 10 months since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed, investing in public tranportation produced twice as many jobs per dollar as investing in roads.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Greasing the Wheels

Are campaign contributions greasing the wheels for new highway construction?

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Report | WISPIRG | Transportation

Wisconsin and the Stimulus

June 29th marks the 120-day deadlne for states to commit at least 50% of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's (ARRA) $26.6 billion in transportation funds. It provides a vantage point to examine how states are using the money, with a particular focus on the $529 million apportioned to Wisconsin.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Connecting Wisconsin: Public Transportation Projects for the 21st Century

A new WISPIRG study examines ten specific opportunities for enhanced and expanded public transportation across the state and inding that such projects would save Wisconsinites money, boost the economy, and reduce oil consumption.

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