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

Blog Post | Transportation

Millennials Want More Public Transportation | Sean Doyle

A new poll shows that access to public transportation is “very important” for Millennials in considering where to live and where to work.  The results support our research over the past few years that found Millennials are driving less than older generations and are more prone to walk, bike, or take transit to get where they need to go.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Communities Roaring for More TIGER Grants | Sean Doyle

Across the country, municipalities are looking for more transportation funding, particularly for public transportation. A recent poll from Politico magazine found that among mayors, aging and deteriorating transportation infrastructure was the most often cited concern. Enter TIGER grants.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Transportation

New House Transportation Bill Raises Serious Concerns

After many months of negotiation, today the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is sitting down to mark-up a new transportation authorization and funding bill, known as the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015

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Blog Post | Transportation

How Deadly are Your State’s Roads? | Sean Doyle

A new report by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows which states have the safest and most dangerous roads.  Here's how the states rank and what we can do about it.

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News Release | WISPIRG | Budget, Consumer Protection, Transportation

Gov. Walker Vetoes Payday Lending Grab-Bag, Misses the Mark on WisDOT Audit

MADISON - Governor Walker today signed Wisconsin’s 2015-17 biennial budget, announcing a list of line-item vetoes. Following widespread opposition, the Governor struck provisions that would have dramatically expanded payday lenders’ authority to sell predatory financial products to Wisconsin consumers. Governor Walker also vetoed a request that the Legislative Audit Committee conduct a performance evaluation of WisDOT’s State Highway Program, including a review of the Department’s questionable highway projections.

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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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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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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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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.

News Release | WISPIRG

At a Milwaukee Press Club event on Tuesday, Governor Walker questioned whether the state should continue spending billions of dollars on highway expansions at a time when transportation preferences are changing, and when there is a pressing need to maintain existing infrastructure. 

Blog Post

The Trump administration is making some pretty outlandish claims to justify its roll back of the nation’s most effective program at fighting climate change. Asserting that stronger fuel economy standards make our roads less safe, the administration moved last week to weaken Obama-era clean car standards -- but their claims just aren’t true.

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