Just Fix It Wisconsin

Local leaders discuss ways to improve Wisconsin roads 5/20/2016

5/19/2016, WQOW Eau Claire (video) – For many Midwesterners, seasons are often divided between winter and construction season.  Sometimes even all that road work isn’t enough to keep wheels running smoothly, so local leaders are trying to change that.

Business owners,farmers, city and county officials from ten counties in northwestern Wisconsin met Thursday to find solutions to improve the state’s roads.  They were calling on state legislators to keep transportation at the top of their priorities because of how roads can impact economic growth.

During the meeting, area officials said the only way to keep the area growing and keep the workforce from going elsewhere is to make it easy and convenient to travel, and to be able to do so on decent roads.

“We’ve got so many baby boomers that are in the process of retirement or nearing retirement, and the millennial generation is a generation that’s going to have to replace those displaced workers.  Transportation is so key in keeping those folks within the region (millennial) and in terms of attracting them to the region, we’ve got wonderful assets in terms of recreation.  But if we don’t have an adequate transportation system to get people to those venues, we’ll struggle retaining talent,” said Momentum West Executive Director Steve Jahn, one of speakers at the event.

Officials said a few ways to get state legislators’ eyes back on the roads is to encourage them to increase funding with things like gas tax or increased user fees, or to allow local governments to have the ability to fix local roads.

One member of the panel suggested putting in place a toll on I-94, stating if Wisconsin tolled at the same rate as Illinois, the state would bring in approximately $840 million per year.