5/16/18 – WIProud.com

Local officials got a bumpy ride around La Crosse County Tuesday morning.

It was part of a “Rough Road Tour” put together by the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin to highlight the poor road conditions.

“The problems that we have are across the state,” said La Crosse County Highway Commissioner Ron Chamberlain.

The two-hour bus tour around county roads was attended by representatives from local towns and cities, school districts and state legislators.

A common theme throughout the tour, towns, cities and the county struggle to find funding.

Chamberlain estimates to simultaneously fix all 282 miles of county road, it would cost $101 million.

“We haven’t had the funds available to do proper improvements, properly timed maintenance for so long and the pavements are aged and starting to fail or failed, so pavement age and failing is a huge part of it,” said Chamberlain.

Counties like La Crosse, and the town and cities in them, rely on taxpayer money to fund road repairs, getting money from gas and property taxes.

Those taxpayers are noticing the poor road conditions as well.

“I’m getting, receiving more complaints, more correspondents, phone calls, emails and things on conditions of city streets,” said City of Onalaska Director of Public Works Jarrod Holter.

The life span of a road is supposed to be 30 years, which many local roads are near or have already exceeded.

“I think the road system just gives a sense of community at a local level that the road system you see makes the city seem more vibrant and things like that. It does effect, we’ve got regional destination shopping in our community that does have an impact from not having good roads to get those people there,” said Holter.

Tuesday’s tour was the first of six the TDA has planned around the state as part of their “Just Fix It” campaign.