Just Fix It Wisconsin
Group: Madison-area roads not up to par, costing drivers money 5/6/2016
5/5/2016, WISC Madison (video) – According to a report from a highway lobbying group, most major roads in the Madison area are in “mediocre to poor” condition.
The study, called “‘Wisconsin Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” was released Thursday by The Road Information Program, which lobbies on behalf of the road repair industry.
The study claims that 68 percent of major roadways in the Madison urban area are in mediocre to poor condition, compared to 56 percent in the Milwaukee area and 42 percent statewide.
According to the group’s report, the average Madison-area driver loses $2,072 annually in the form of additional vehicular operating costs, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
“Those costs come in the form of accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional tire wear and also maintenance on your vehicle because you’re having to see a mechanic more often when you’re driving on these rough roads,” TRIP spokesperson Carolyn Kelly said. “Our hope in releasing this report is that not only the residents and people here in Wisconsin understand the condition of their system, but they also understand the impact that has on their wallet, the quality of life and the economy.”
Gene Marousek, a Madison auto mechanic, said he sees drivers coming in with damage from potholes and other road wear.
“I see that you have a lot of cars that are coming in that have tires that are no longer around anymore,” Marousek said. “On average, if you need a set of tires, you’re looking at $400, $600, maybe $800.”
In response to the TRIP report, Wisconsin Department of Transportation spokesperson Patty Mayers said, “WisDOT uses a different but widely accepted evaluation method that provides a more accurate assessment of overall pavement condition that we use for planning and programming improvements to our highway network.”
According to WisDOT statistics, 97 percent of “backbone” state highways are in fair or better condition and 82 percent of “non-backbone” state highways are in fair or better condition.
TRIP is encouraging the state and federal government to increase funds dedicated for road construction projects.
When asked by News 3 if the organization would advocate for a specific solution for paying for the increased funds, like raising gasoline taxes, Kelly said, “Our organization doesn’t propose a specific solution. There are many ways to increase the funding. That’s one of the many. At this point, given the condition of the roadways, drivers are already paying a hidden tax to the tune of $2,100 each year.”
News 3 reached out to traffic officials from both the city of Madison and the Dane County Highway Department for a response to the report; no one had returned our phone calls as of Thursday night.