7/23/19, InBusiness Blog

As the governor signed the state budget, motorists were hitting the road for one of the busiest travel times of the year, the long July 4th weekend.

According to AAA, more Americans than ever — nearly 49 million, including 1 million Wisconsinites — packed up the family and set out on an Independence Day getaway. The vast majority of these vacationers traveled by car, but both car and air travel in Wisconsin were projected to increase about 5 percent over last year.

I was one of the traveling masses, taking the opportunity provided by the long weekend to visit my son. For any of you with busy, 20-something-year-old children, you know how difficult it can be to coordinate schedules and how precious the time together is.

Allowing us to bridge the distance and remain close with family and friends is just one of the ways in which our transportation system impacts us every day. Wisconsin’s transportation network is also the key to our economy, connecting goods to markets and people to jobs.

This direct impact on Wisconsin residents and businesses is why the Transportation Development Association has promoted the vitality and safety of the state’s transportation system — including public transit systems, airports, railroads, commercial ports, and roads — for almost 50 years. And also why for the last four years, TDA has traveled the state talking with community leaders, highlighting deteriorating system conditions, and asking lawmakers to step forward with a plan to Just Fix It.

The new state budget finally acknowledges the growing concerns of citizens and businesses with an increase of $200 million a year in ongoing revenue, the largest increase in decades.

With the increased investment, Wisconsin can:

  • Move up more than 200 vital state highway rehabilitation projects around the state, stabilizing state highway conditions
  • Increase support for local roads and transit services
  • Complete the Zoo Interchange and invest in other important modernization and safety projects, including Highway 23 and I-39/90
  • Reduce bonding to the lowest level in 20 years

This is an important first step. However, while this budget stops the system decline, it doesn’t solve the problem.

TDA remains hopeful lawmakers will work together and make progress to establish an equitable, sustainable, and ongoing revenue stream to meet our future transportation needs. This will be a continuing challenge with high stakes.

As the Beloit Daily News bluntly stated in a recent editorial: “Here’s the worst-case scenario, which is pretty much what we have had for many years. Democrats want to do it one way, Republicans want to do it another, and the net result is neglect.”

At TDA, we know Transportation Investment Moves Everything: people, goods, and our economy.

So, it’s about TIME, Wisconsin, for the next step — a long-term solution.