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TDA, It's Time to Engage
Wisconsin needs to come up with a long-term, sustainable transportation funding plan. But gauging from past experience, it is not likely to happen unless each of us gets committed and involved.
It is up to each of us to let our elected officials know it is time to stop kicking the can down the road. Every contact matters.
It will take just 3 Minutes.
Three minutes to help make Just Fix It and the plight of our aging transportation infrastructure all the buzz in the capitol and in your community.
What you can do:
- Text JustFixItWI to 52886 or click the link below to sign up for TDA action alerts, if you haven’t already. Once a month, TDA will generate a message for elected officials. In no more than a minute, you can send an email, tweet or Facebook post to let them know transportation is important to you and your community. This month's message is ready to go. Take action now!
- Like TDA Wisconsin on Facebook and invite your friends to like us as well.
- Follow TDA Wisconsin on Twitter.
- Join the conversation by posting pictures of the roads in your community that you’d like to see receive some TLC or other transportation challenges. And if your community has benefited from transportation investment, share that too. Make sure to include #JustFixItWI.
- Encourage friends, family and colleagues to also give 3 minutes for transportation.
Eighty-five county highway officials recently signed up and took action in a live event at a Wisconsin County Highway Association conference. We need another 200 engagements this month, and next month...
Visit the Just Fix It page on the TDA website for up-to-minute information on the campaign.
In Business Wisconsin Blog
Fixing Wisconsin's Highways
By Craig Thompson, TDA Executive Director
Note: This item also ran this week in following publications: Fond du Lac Reporter, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Janesville Gazette, Manitowoc Herald Times, Marshfield News Herald, Oshkosh Northwestern, Sheboygan Press, Stevens Point Journal, Sun Prairie Star, and Wisconsin Rapids Tribune.
The state of transportation in Wisconsin is not as strong as it needs to be.
I am not alone in this assessment. The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance released a 2015 report card for Wisconsin in which it graded 23 different areas of the state from per capita personal income to energy costs to graduation rates. The area that received the worst grade was the condition of our highways, in which Wisconsin received a “D” grade.
The state’s roads are lacking by comparison as well. The U.S. Department of Transportation posted a fact sheet titled Road and Bridge Data by State, which shows 71% of Wisconsin’s roads are in mediocre or poor condition. That places Wisconsin 47th out of 50 states.
So what if our roads are a little bumpy to drive over and hard to look at, you might say. We have more important things to tend to like creating jobs.
Well, if we want to attract and retain businesses that create jobs, we are likely neglecting their number-one priority. In a national survey of CEOs and consultants ranking factors for choosing where to locate, access to highways scored as the most important factor (a skilled workforce ranked number two). It’s no wonder when you consider the fact that transportation comprises 50% to 80% of supply chain costs.
Why are we faring so badly when it comes to our roads? At the local level, cities, towns, and counties are able to repair and replace fewer miles of road each year due to stagnant state funds. In many instances, replacement schedules now exceed twice the number of years for which the roads were engineered. As for our major highways, some of our most pressing improvement projects continue to be delayed and shelved for the same reason.
Enough of the doom and gloom. The good news is that unlike eradicating poverty or finding peace in the Middle East, this problem is completely within our control. All it requires is some proactive leadership.
Now is the time to tackle this issue. Lower gas prices have saved the average two-car household over $1,000. We can put Wisconsin transportation back on a sustainable funding path while still leaving most of those dollars in the motorists’ pockets.
Wisconsin has long provided a value to drivers — lower combined gas tax and vehicle registration fees — when compared to neighboring states. We can modernize our system and provide mobility options without jeopardizing this advantage.
We can most certainly do better than a “D.” All this requires is the resolve to address the problem. Let’s just fix it.
US Mayors Rank Transportation as Top Challenge
A new survey of the nation’s mayors shows that aging and underfunded infrastructure rises above other shared challenges facing their cities.
Nearly half of participants cited infrastructure as their most pressing issue. “Economic and structure/mobility” had the second largest response with less than twenty percent.
“In 2014, infrastructure topped the list of mayoral challenges. In 2015, mayors named their greatest shared challenge - one where they could typically rely on other government partners for help. Continued underinvestment in infrastructure rose to the top, with more than half of mayors naming it in an open-ended question as the greatest shared challenge facing their city. Topping their list of needs, overwhelmingly, is roads,” stated the press release announcing the latest report.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors in partnership with The Boston University Initiative on Cities released the 2015 Menino Survey of Mayors, which details the most pressing needs and policy priorities of mayors in cities across the country.
November Mileage Continuing Record-Setting Pace
According to the Federal Highway Administration, travel during November 2015 on all roads and streets in the nation increased 4.3% from a year ago, resulting in estimated travel for the month of 253.2 billion vehicle-miles. This continues a trend that should make 2015 the heaviest traffic volume year in U.S. history.
In Wisconsin, VMT was up 6.1% over November 2014.
Increased travel has been fueled by lower gas prices and favorable weather.
In a related story, gas prices sank to the lowest level in seven years. The average nationwide retail price of gasoline fell to $1.822 a gallon as of February 1st, the Energy Information Administration said.
As of January 25th, AAA counted 25 straight days with national average gas prices below $2 per gallon.
Interesting News Coverage
The West Central Tribune, January 28, 2016 – “Lawmakers [MN] consider putting transportation funding before voters”
WKRG News 5, January 26, 2016– “Business groups [Alabama] support gas tax hike”
GmToday.com, January 26, 2016 – “Business owners in Hartford want a road to expansion” Note: TDA recently went to Hartford to video this story of planned expansion and the need for a reliever route.
The Transportation Investment Advocate Blog, January 13, 2016 – “Indiana lawmakers move forward on competing transportation funding proposals”
Montgomery Advertiser, January 8, 2016 – “Raising the gas tax, the conservative thing to do”
TDA Welcomes a New Member!
TDA Fly-in to Washington, D.C.
26th Annual Fly-in
It’s almost that time of year again – the time of year TDA members join together to show our delegation just how important federal transportation investment is to Wisconsin.
Click here to see how you can add your voice and participate in the 2016 TDA Fly-in.
Given an unusual election year schedule, the House will be in recess the week of April 4. However, the Senate will be in session. Meetings will be made with appropriate staff.
We are excited about a tour we've booked of the Speaker's Office. What a view!
If you are thinking about attending, please make note of the following:
- Air transport is not included in the package. Start looking now for deals on your flight.
- Industry consolidation has resulted in fewer flight options than in years past, so don't wait to book your flight.
- The April 7th schedule will allow attendees to make the 3:45 p.m. nonstop Southwest Airlines flight (#1465) from D.C. to Milwaukee.
Don't wait! Book your flight and register today. Registrations are due March 4th.
March 2-3 Transportation Improvement Conference
The American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation are partnering for the ninth consecutive year to present the 2016 Transportation Improvement Conference. This year’s theme is “Change. Challenge. Opportunity.” The conference brings together the department and consulting engineering community for two days of transportation-related professional development programming and networking opportunities.
The conference, including the March 2 Networking Reception, is open to registered attendees only. Click here for event information.
The registration deadline is February 19th.