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

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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Report | WISPIRG | Transportation

The 10% Solution

Wisconsin taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be wasted on unnecessary and costly highway expenditures, when local transportation infrastructure is crumbling.  Unfortunately, the transportation budget being considered by state leaders increases spending on highways while neglecting local needs.  It’s time to get our transportation priorities straight and invest taxpayer dollars wisely, maintaining a modern highway system while meeting local road repair and transit needs. The 10% Solution offers a budget alternative that achieves these goals.
 

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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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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

Doyle Stimulus Proposal Would Move Some Key Projects for 21st Century Transportation, “Getting Wisconsin Back on Track”

Governor Doyle’s economic stimulus proposal to President-Elect Obama, which was released today, includes important 21st  century transportation projects for Wisconsin, including high speed intercity rail connecting Wisconsin’s major metropolitan areas, commuter rail in southeastern Wisconsin and Dane County, funding for transit agencies statewide, and funding for road and bridge repair and maintenance.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

High Speed Rail on the Horizon

A nationwide network of high speed bullet trains could soon be a reality thanks to bipartisan legislation introduced today by Senators Kerry (D-MA), Specter (R-PA) and at least a dozen other senators from both parties. The legislation provides two necessary components for such a system: dedicated funding and federal coordination.  The legislation includes financing for federally-designated rail corridors, one of which is the Chicago hub corridor -- a main segment of the Chicago corridor would run from Chicago to Minneapolis by way of Milwaukee and Madison. Senator Kohl (WI) is supportive of high-speed rail but was not a co-sponsor of this bill.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Transportation

Bush Approves Landmark Passenger Rail Investment

President Bush signed legislation today that will strengthen the nation’s intercity passenger rail network to accommodate record ridership and make possible new routes.

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Blog Post

If we want Wisconsin's young adults to stay here—and improve the quality of life for everyone in our state—we should offer better transportation options.

Blog Post

Talk about a captive market: For most of us, it's next to impossible to work, shop or go to school without a car. Auto lenders are taking full advantage.

Report | WISPIRG Foundation

Car culture no longer represents the “American Dream” for young Americans. Many young people today prefer car-light, multimodal lifestyles that allow them to get around efficiently, multitask while commuting, and feel connected to their communities. Millennials are drawn to the high quality of life in places that offer extensive and safe walking and biking options, as well as clean, fast, and efficient public transportation networks. Moreover, this preference for multimodal lifestyles appears to be influencing young people’s decisions about where to live and work.

News Release | WISPIRG Foundation

A new WISPIRG Foundation study released today found that investing in public transit and walking and biking infrastructure could help Wisconsin attract and retain young adults. The report, entitled Millennials on the Move, also indicates that Wisconsin’s current transportation policy priorities – which have focused on expanding major highways at the expense of maintaining existing infrastructure and funding public transit, walking and biking – will fail to create the type of system young adults desire and Wisconsin needs.

News Release | WISPIRG

Governor-elect Tony Evers this morning nominated Craig Thompson, executive director of the roadbuilding and transportation infrastructure advocacy group TDA, to run the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. WISPIRG Director Peter Skopec issued the following statement in response to Gov.-elect Evers’ announcement.

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