transportation

Michelle Maternowski

Gov. Scott Walker is drawing sharp criticism for his plan to delay highway projects, including the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee. In the past, the governor has hailed the interchange as key to state businesses that transport products throughout the region.

Elnur / Fotolia

Anyone who's driven in the Milwaukee area recently knows that there are some roads that are in rough shape.  But do the pot holes and frost heaves and other bumps paint an accurate picture of the overall condition of the city's transportation infrastructure?

This week, Wisconsin state agencies will submit their spending requests for the next two years. Many eyes may focus on the state’s transportation budget. It faces a $1 billion deficit, and at a time when Wisconsin’s roads are rated as among the worst in the nation. There’s no shortage of opinions as to where the state could get more money.

Gov. Walker continues to insist he will not raise taxes or fees to fund road projects in Wisconsin. Co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee Rep. John Nygren says the state has to consider increases, now that it’s heading toward a $939-million shortfall in its transportation budget.

Michelle Maternowski

Has your car ended up in the shop after hitting a pothole on a Milwaukee road or highway? A Washington D.C. based transportation research group says that’s happened to quite a few drivers in Milwaukee. Bad roads cost the average Milwaukee driver more than $2,000 a year.

Those costs come in the form of repairs, wrecks, wasted gas, and time spent stuck in traffic. 

Sebastian Joseph / Flickr

Starting February 29, Milwaukee County Transit System passengers will no longer be able to purchase paper tickets. From then on, bus rides can only be bought with cash or M-Cards, reloadable electronic smart cards.

M-Cards have been available for sometime, but now Milwaukee is following the lead of other cities across the country in eliminating paper tickets. According to MCTS spokesman Brendon Conway, M-Cards will make life easier for riders and the transit system alike.   

Bublr Bikes / facebook.com

A year after officially launching, the Milwaukee bike share company, Bublr Bikes, has big plans for the future. The company’s distinctive blue bicycles can be rented at 11 locations now, but the company plans on having 50 locations by the end of 2016 and around 100 locations by 2018.

"It's been very exciting," says Bublr Bikes Executive Director Kevin Hardman. "A year ago, I was the only employee of the organization, and we now have two other full-time staff and an additional nine part-time staff."

Most Assembly Republicans want Wisconsin to mete out delays statewide and not spare the massive Zoo Interchange reconstruction project in Milwaukee.

On Monday, 33 of 63 GOP representatives put their demands in a letter Monday to Gov. Walker and Republican legislative leaders. The 33, who represent rural and out-state districts, say they want to rein in spending on transportation until the state has the money but want any resulting delays to affect all corners of Wisconsin.

road construction
Marge Pitrof

State Republican leaders issued dueling press releases on Thursday, about their positions related to transportation funding in the next state budget.

Sen. Alberta Darling says will not retract her comment that Assembly leaders want to delay work on the Zoo Interchange, in order to pressure the state Senate to approve a hike in the gas tax or vehicle registration fees.

d76 / Flickr

As the fiscal year comes to a close, one of the biggest questions that remains is the fate of transportation funding.

Currently, the Wisconsin legislature has significant work to do with Governor Walker's proposed biennial budget, which plans to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for various highway projects. However, one program that this new budget affects especially are Wisconsin's transit programs. 

Scott Feldstein

DOT Sec. Mark Gottlieb told the Legislature’s budget committee Wednesday that he understands Gov. Walker's desire to hold down taxes, by borrowing.

Wisconsin DOT

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has whittled down a pile of options to upgrade the freeway between 16th and 70th streets in the Milwaukee metro area.

Bob Bach

Wisconsin transportation officials are eyeing ways to raise $750 million over the next two years. Possibilities include higher prices at the gas pump and new fees on vehicle purchases. Gov. Walker and GOP leaders have been cool to the idea of new taxes, so it’s unclear what might happen with the DOT plan.

thedigitelmyr, flickr

A referendum on November's ballot will let voters decide whether to require Wisconsin to spend all transportation revenue on transportation projects.

Jimmy Emerson, Flickr

Wisconsin may have to plug a $700 million shortfall in its next transportation budget.

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