Just Fix It Wisconsin

Communities wonder if local roads will be fixed in light of likely DOT budget 6/3/2016

6/3/2016, WISC Madison (video) – Area communities are wondering whether they’ll get to fix their roads after recent news that the Department of Transportation (DOT) may cut back on local road projects in the next state budget.

In Baraboo, Highway 33 is the main thoroughfare that runs into and through the Sauk County community. Leaders said they’ve been asking for years for the highway to be added to the state highway rehabilitation program to no avail. This summer, DOT officials are studying the corridor for safety and traffic issues, but there is no timeline as for when any reconstruction may happen.

In the meantime, the city of Baraboo has elected to spend nearly $500,000 of their own city streets money to fix it up themselves.

“It’s kind of a rock and a hard place,” said Baraboo Mayor Mike Palm. “I don’t think funding is out there for at least 10 years, because that’s what the wait period is once you’re even on the schedule, and we can’t afford to let the road go that long. It needs to be repaired today.”

Recently, DOT officials have said that if department revenue remains at current levels, some projects will be delayed. DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb reportedly told area officials that it’s likely they’ll have to focus on major projects rather than state highway rehabilitation projects across the state.

Gov. Scott Walker also reiterated this week that he would not support or propose any fee or tax increases to pay for highways.

“I’ve made very clear that I don’t support a gas tax or other revenue increase unless there was a corresponding decrease in state taxes,” Walker said Thursday.

Palm said their fix will only smooth out outer lanes of Highway 33. But where the rubber hits the road is that they’re trying to revitalize the east side of the city.

“Who wants to stick money into redevelopment when the road is in terrible shape?” Palm said.

Baraboo resident Tim Blum, who helped organize a truck show in the city Friday, said he thought the solution may be less noticeable than a bump in the road.

“If gas goes up five cents tomorrow, it’s been going up over the last couple of days, have you heard anyone complain?” Blum asked. “They still buy it, people will still pay it and are still going to drive.”

Walker said the DOT will work on their budget request, which will be submitted in September.