TDA Wisconsin
Issue 0815

IN THIS ISSUE
Spotlight
Annual Meeting
In Business Wisconsin Blog
Highway 23
News
Federal Update
Travel Trends
Road Conditions
Wisconsin Ports Week 2015
News Coverage
Association Notes
Calendar
@TDAWisconsin


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Spotlight
2015 Annual Meeting

 
2015 TDA Annual Meeting
September 17th

The Monona Terrace

Just Fix It

Some things in life are complicated or unknown, like putting a man on the moon or curing the common cold. But other things aren't. They simply require determination.

Addressing the challenges of our transportation system certainly falls in the latter category.

The problem has been defined. Several reports have highlighted what is needed to maintain and modernize our transportation system and the impacts on users - both individuals and businesses - if we put it off.

The complication has come from policymakers looking for a silver bullet - a way to fund the necessary investment without actually raising new revenue.

Enough. We know what needs to be done. JUST FIX IT.

Please attend to hear from two states about how they were able secure new revenue and what you can do to help ensure Wisconsin joins the list of states that got it done.

You can register and pay online or mail in your registration form. Please register by September 11th.



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In Business Wisconsin Blog
Here’s to No Unwanted Headlines at the 97th PGA Championship
Highslide JS

This blog was posted and distributed by In Business in early August. 


Next week, the eyes of the world are going to be on Sheboygan and its magnificent Whistling Straits golf course, as the last golf major of the year — the 2015 PGA championship — begins on August 13. This will be the third PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which previously hosted the event in 2004 and 2010 (both won in playoffs), as well as the United States Senior Open in 2007.

The story lines for this year’s PGA Championship are many: Will 21-year-old Jordan Spieth win his third major of the year? Will hometown favorite Steve Stricker make a run? Will Tiger Woods finally get off the schneid?

As more than six million people are expected to tune in on TV — with an additional 200,000 watching the action live at Whistling Straits — let’s hope all of the story lines remain on the bent grass.

The headline we don’t need to see is yet another about a traffic accident along Highway 23, which serves as the main thoroughfare to Whistling Straits from the west.

These headlines have become all too familiar this year:

This dangerous stretch of roadway has become a hot topic for the communities around Sheboygan, Plymouth, and Fond du Lac. Earlier this year, Eastern District of Wisconsin Judge Lynn Adelman halted construction on this road that was set to begin within days of his decision. The 19-mile stretch of Highway 23 is scheduled to be widened by adding another lane in each direction. One of the main reasons for doing this is to improve safety.

The ruling puts this project on hold and asks the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to go back and show how they arrived at their traffic projections and population projections in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). “Because the decision to expand Highway 23 to four lanes was based on violations of NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) that have significantly affected informed decision-making and informed public participation, I find it is appropriate to vacate the record of decision and to remand the matter to the agencies for further consideration,” Adelman stated in his decision.

This ruling has not sat well at all with locals who have to drive this road daily. In mid-July, the Fond du Lac County Board approved a resolution calling on the Department of Transportation to continue fighting for the expansion. Fond du Lac County Supervisor Dean Will took this shot at the environmental group, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, that filed the lawsuit: “They may say they’re 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, but they’re not friends of Fond du Lac County.” Will is also a former captain with the sheriff’s department and has lost a cousin in an accident on this highway. “How much carnage before this gets done?” Will asked.

Hopefully, clearer heads will prevail and this project will get back on track. In the meantime, let’s all hope that with the increased traffic that the PGA Championship will bring, that it does not bring any more unwanted headlines.

On a positive note, we have much to be proud of as a state with the PGA choosing Wisconsin once again to host this premiere sporting event. Click on the two links below. The first is a virtual tour of the magnificent, world-renowned Whistling Straits Golf Course. The second features highlights from last year’s incredible Championship.

http://www.pga.com/pgachampionship/multimedia/video/whistling-straits-scenic-tour-2015-pga-championship-video


http://www.pga.com/pgachampionship/multimedia/video/rory-mcilroy-wins-2014-pga-championship-valhalla

Enjoy the PGA Championship, and if you’re fortunate enough to have tickets, be extra vigilant when traveling to the event. For starters, stay in your lane — fairways are not the only things that are narrow. You cannot afford to be off to the right when driving Highway 23. The potential hazard is worse than any water or trees, and the consequences are far greater than a one-stroke penalty. 



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News
Long List for Congress after Recess

Needless to say, all of these factors combine to make the odds of a multi-year transportation reauthorization package becoming law in 2015 fairly long.

Before leaving to go back home at the end of July, the Senate passed its 1,043 page surface transportation reauthorization bill now referred to as the DRIVE-Act (Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy).  The DRIVE Act uses about $46 billion in miscellaneous pay-fors to fund 3 years of additional authorized highway and transit expenditures.  The legislation passed on a 65-34 vote.

Now the House is going to have to come up with its version of a surface transportation bill. Congressman Ryan and leadership in the House have repeatedly indicated that they do not support the DRIVE Act and want to fund a multi-year surface transportation bill through some kind of international business tax reform.

President Obama has also opted for using tax reform or “repatriation” as the preferred method for funding transportation, but his version of reform and that of congressional Republicans is quite different.

The current short-term extension of MAP-21 expires on October 29th.  So, in order for a multi-year reauthorization to happen before then, the House will have to agree upon its version of the bill, pass it and then go to conference with the Senate and come to agreement.

In the meantime, there are all twelve general appropriations bills for 2016 that need to pass.  President Obama has promised to veto all twelve appropriations bills no matter what they contain unless congressional Republicans first agree to a change in the Budget Control Act (BCA) that would allow an increase in the total amount of federal spending.  This could lead to a government shut-down.

Senate Democrats stood by the President on this point back in June when they successfully filibustered the first appropriations bill Republicans tried to bring up, the defense bill.

Congress must also address in September the extension of the FAA Trust Fund which will expire on September 30.  And yet other “must-pass” legislation this year comes in some form of a tax-extenders bill and a measure to raise the debt ceiling.

Congress comes back in on September 8thand has 25 session days before October 29th. 

Needless to say, all of these factors combine to make the odds of a multi-year transportation reauthorization package becoming law in 2015 fairly long. 



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American Driving has Doubled Over Last Generation

Recently released estimates from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that U.S. driving topped an estimated 1.54 trillion miles in the first half of this year, up from the previous record of 1.50 trillion set in June 2007.

According to USDOT, “This is more than double the amount driven during the same period in 1981, continuing a trend of America’s driving mileage doubling nearly every generation.”

The nation’s driving has increased for 16 consecutive months.

Wisconsin’s estimated year-over-year change in driving for June mirrored the national increase of 3.9%. For the first six months of the year, Wisconsin has outpaced the national growth rate in miles traveled. 



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Another Report Highlights Poor Road Conditions in Wisconsin

Forty-six percent of major roads in Milwaukee are in poor condition, according to a report by TRIP, a transportation research group. This compares to 36% of major roads in Madison and 30% across the nation.

Milwaukee’s percentage is the 13th worst among the nation's urban areas with populations greater than 500,000, while Madison rates 13th worst among mid-sized urban areas.

The report evaluates pavement conditions in the nation’s large (500,000+ population) and mid-sized urban areas (250,000-500,000 population) and calculates the additional costs passed on to motorists as a result of driving on rough roads.

These rough roads cost the average urban driver $516 annually in maintenance and fuel. In Milwaukee, the annual cost of substandard roads is estimated at $753 and in Madison $685.

"Poor road conditions in Wisconsin's cities and villages harm economic development, cost residents money on vehicle repairs and contribute to neighborhood blight that makes communities less attractive," said Jerry Deschane, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

In a similar report on rural road conditions issued earlier this year, TRIP determined 18% of Wisconsin’s rural roads are in poor condition, the 19th worst in the nation.

Without a long-term solution to fund Wisconsin transportation, the number of miles of state roads rated “poor and below” over the next decade will increase significantly.



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Wisconsin Ports and Waterways Help Chart the Course for Growing Economy
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Governor Scott Walker has proclaimed August 24 – 30 as Wisconsin Ports Week. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin (TDA) are teaming up to promote, educate and celebrate the network of ports that contribute to the state’s economy, environment and quality of life.

“Waterborne commerce is a key component of the state’s economy. Having the natural advantage of being surrounded the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, we recognize how critical healthy ports are in a multi-modal transportation system,” noted Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb. “Goods worth more than $2.4 billion pass through Wisconsin’s commercial ports. The economic benefit, in terms of jobs and income, enhances the quality of life in the entire state.”

Each year, Wisconsin’s 29 commercial ports handle more than 30 million tons of cargo and provide an important transportation alternative for the movement of goods and bulk commodities. The goods passing through Wisconsin ports annually generate over $1.6 billion in economic activity, and support almost 10,000 jobs. Ports are also used as hubs for passenger transportation (ferries) and for several recreational activities.

Wisconsin Ports Week this year coincides with the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association Meeting, which will take place August 27-28 at the Port of Milwaukee.

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Interesting News Coverage

New York Time Editorial, August 22, 2015 – "The states show up Congress on road repairs"


WiscNews.com, August 18, 2015 – “Asia's 'infrastructure gap' threatens to hamper growth”

Watertown Daily Times, August 17, 2015 – “States raising taxes, fees and debt to pay for road repairs”

Eau Claire Leader Telegram, August 6, 2015 – “Arena vote independence refreshing” Editorial suggests a similar bipartisan approach should be tried to adequately fund transportation.

The Hill.com, August 5, 2015 – “Aviation funding bill up in the air”

Herald Times Reporter, August 4, 2015 – “Why is it so hard to fund Wisconsin roads?”

KnoxNews.com, July 28, 2015– “Haslam [governor of Tennessee] to launch statewide tour on transportation needs”



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Association Notes
Calendar of Events

  • TDA Annual Meeting:September 17th at the Monona Terrace in Madison.  Register today.

  • Rebuild America's Infrastructure and Economy: League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – Wisconsin Section present four free public forums around the state: September 16th Milwaukee, September 23rd Oshkosh, September 30th Madison, October 14th Eau Claire. All forums will take place 6-8 p.m. Click here for more information.

  • Annual UW CEE Golf Outing: Thursday, September 24th. Registration is now open. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

  • Wisconsin Railroad Association's Freight Rail Day: Tuesday, October 20th in Madison

  • TDA Fly-in 2016: April 6th-7th 



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@TDAWisconsin, Now on Twitter
Highslide JS
Racine buses. Green Bay port. Rail lines in Superior. Waukesha Airport. Roads we all use. WI’s transpo network: heart of our economy.

Follow TDA for the latest in transportation news.


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