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

Transportation Budget Brings Much-Needed Scrutiny to Questionable Highway Projects

The legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has taken a decisive step towards profoundly reforming Wisconsin’s transportation spending priorities. As part of the JFC’s budget motion approved today, legislators are calling for an audit of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s State Highway Program, and of WisDOT’s shaky traffic projections that have led to billions of dollars spent on questionable highway expansion projects over the past decade and a half.

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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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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: 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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Media Hit | Transportation

More Students Taking the Bus

Are college kids giving up on the car? A new report shows Americans are driving less, and young people are turning more to public transportation – for perhaps obvious reasons.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Report: Young People Taking Bus More, Driving Less

Young people between the ages of 16 and 34 are driving less and riding buses more, especially in the Madison area, according a report released Thursday from the WISPIRG Foundation and the Frontier Group.

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Report | WISPIRG | Transportation

Spending the Stimulus

This report highlights the tremendous opportunity Wisconsin has to fund projects that repair crumbling roadways and bridges, provide low cost transportation choices, retrofit streets for safe walking and biking, advance energy independence, and generally put thousands of Americans to work during the current economic crisis and in order to jump-start a 21st century transportation system.

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Report | WISPIRG Foundation | Transportation

A Better Way To Go

America’s automobile-centered transportation system was a key component of the nation’s economic prosperity during the 20th century. But our transportation system is increasingly out of step with the challenges of the 21st century. Rising fuel prices, growing traffic congestion, and the need to address critical challenges such as global warming and America’s addiction to imported oil all point toward the need for a new transportation future.

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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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