TDA Newsletter 2/28/2019
Thompson "in the driver's seat with his claim" about Wisconsin Highway Conditions

PolitiFact has rated a recent statement by Craig Thompson, who was nominated by Gov. Tony Evers to lead the state Department of Transportation, as "mostly TRUE."

In a Sunday, January 27th interview Thompson said that among neighboring states, the condition of Wisconsin highways was rated "not only the worst, but it was worse by a gaping margin." 

Thompson cites a January 2017 Legislative Audit Bureau report, which included the graphic below.
Only 32% of Wisconsin roads are in good condition, well below the percentage of good roads in other Midwestern states.

Important to note from the article:
  • The International Roughness Index is a pavement condition measurement required by the Federal Highway Administration.
  • It is the only measure used by all states and is the only way to make an apples-to-apples comparison of pavement condition.
  • In the United States, 63.4 percent of highways were classified in good condition.

At the time the audit report was issue, the 2014 data was the latest available.

The only reason the statement was given the qualifier, "mostly", was the age of the data.

The Problem is Defined, the Options are Known

When it comes to Wisconsin transportation, most people agree there is not enough money coming into the Transportation Fund to maintain current system conditions.

Expectations for system conditions and performance drive the need for investment and, therefore, the funding shortfall. Consequently, if Wisconsinites are willing to accept declining road conditions, delayed safety improvements and time wasted stuck in traffic, the funding gap is much smaller than if the goal is to maintain or improve Wisconsin’s transportation system. It’s a choice. Read more.
To gauge the public’s appetite for transportation fix, ask about costs AND benefits
In Business Blog
By Debby Jackson, TDA Executive Director
February 19, 2019

 Wisconsinites are increasingly willing to “Just Fix It” and support a reasonable investment in transportation. This idea is counter to the narrative put forward by some who say while people may not like the condition of the roads on which they drive every day, they don’t want to pay more to fix them.

Proponents of this view will point to polling done by the Marquette Law School last October. In the Oct. 10 poll results, 64 percent rated the roads and highways where they live as fair or poor, yet 61 percent said it was more important to keep the gas tax and vehicle registration fees where they are now instead of raising these user fees to increase spending on roads and highways. Only 32 percent supported raising the gas tax and registration fee.

Case made, right?

Except, let’s use this example: You’re hungry and the only place open in your town is the diner. The diner is convenient, but the food isn’t great, the options are limited, and if you were honest, you would have to admit the quality of the food and service has gone down in the last several years. As you enter the diner, someone stops you and asks if you would like to pay more. Isn’t the reasonable response, “No, I think I’m good”? Read more.
TDA launches new podcast titled "On the Go"
TDA has launch a new podcast as a new way to share information, communicate with our members and promote the importance of a strong, sustainable transportation infrastructure. Executive Director Debby Jackson serves as the podcast's host.

The first episode reviews TDA's Just Fix It public awareness campaign and looks back at a 2017 interview with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to glean insight regarding what's in store for the current Budget debate. Governor Tony Evers is set to deliver his budget address later this week, and his plan will be examined in the next episode of On the Go .

Listen to the first episode and find future episodes here .
Wisconsin News
2019 State of the Budget Address

Tonight at 7 p.m., Governor Tony Evers will deliver his State of the Budget Address to the state legislature in the Assembly Chamber at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.

WisconsinEye will broadcast this address live on their website .
Motorists understand the need for more road money
Chris Klein's column ran in the Wisconsin State Journal February 16, 2019. Chris is the President, Executive Director of American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin.

As Klein explains, "I had the privilege of representing Wisconsin’s engineering industry on the Transportation Task Force implemented by Gov. Tony Evers. Being expected to deliver a state budget in less than two months of being sworn into office, the governor was wise to ask a broad range of stakeholders to provide an expert review of the state’s current road and infrastructure conditions."
Wisconsin State Journal Editorial: Wisconsin is finally serious about fixing its roads

Another recent editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal (February 10, 2019) states, " Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, unlike his predecessor, understands the state can’t maintain a solid transportation system without a steady stream of revenue that at least keeps pace with inflation... Wisconsin needs a modern system of user fees that treats all drivers fairly." The State Journal editorial board goes on to explain, "In the coming budget, a gas tax increase, higher registration fees or some sort of mileage charge will be needed to improve our roads." Read the full editorial here.
Port of Green Bay Breaks Five Year Record

The Port of Green Bay had a busy 2018 shipping season as it moved more than 2 million tons of cargo in one shipping season (for the first time in 5 years).

A total of 2.087M metric tons were moved in and out of the Port during the season, a 14 percent increase over 2017. Read the details here .
News from around the Nation

Cincinnati Enquirer
February 21, 2019

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is calling for a gas-tax increase to deal with a chronic shortfall in spending on roadwork.

Star Tribune
February 20, 2019

The governor’s plan would spend $49.5 billion over two years with significant new spending on statewide transportation projects.
New York Times
February 19, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration announced it intends to cancel a $929 million federal grant destined for the high-speed rail project in California and is looking exploring legal options to claw back $2.5 billion in federal funds already spent on the state’s high-speed rail network.
Federal Transportation Funding to Flow Following Bicameral Legislative Agreement

As part of bicameral legislative deal to prevent a second partial federal government shutdown while providing monies to build a wall along parts of the southern U.S. border, a total of $26.5 billion in discretionary funds and $60 billion from Highway and Airport and Airway Trust Funds will be provided to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Senate voted in favor of the deal 83-16 on Feb. 14, followed by passage in the House of Representatives by a vote of 300-128. President Trump said via Twitter that he would sign the government funding bill, while also taking other “executive action,” including the declaration of a national emergency on Feb. 15 to “ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border.” Read the full story from AASHTO here.
Upcoming Events
2019 Fly-in 
April 3-4

Join us in DC this spring. It will be an important time to make the case for federal investment in Wisconsin’s transportation system. Only with increased investment at all levels of government will we begin to reverse the trend of deteriorating system conditions.

TDA is trying something new this year. In order to have more flexibility, reduce costs and accommodate increasingly congested calendars in the state and DC, we are holding most of the event on the Hill and just selecting a home base hotel area. Book any hotel that fits your need. TDA staff will make sure to keep participants connected as we know networking and reconnecting with old friends is a major part of the Fly-in.

It's not too late! Pick your hotel to fit your budget. Read the materials and make your travel plans today. If you have your travel arrangements, you still need to register with TDA.

​​Click here for the event brochure or register online .
ACEC/ WisDOT 2019 Transportation Improvement Conference - March 5-6 (Tuesday/Wednesday) in Baraboo

Now in its eleventh year, the Transportation Improvement Conference brings together the department and consulting engineering community for transportation-related professional development programming and networking opportunities. It is our biggest transportation event of the year. The agenda is designed by engineers and WisDOT to maximize educational value; the sessions look at the most important issues facing transportation in our state. Don't miss the excellent opportunity to learn and network with peers and encourage others at your firm to attend as well.
Association News
Save these Dates

  • TDA Drive-in: Wednesday, May 22
  • TDA Annual Meeting: Thursday, November 7
Thanks for Your Support

For everyone who has renewed their TDA Membership - Thank You!

If you haven't renewed your TDA membership, please continue your membership and active participation in TDA, so we can make the first installment on a sustainable, long-term funding solution for Wisconsin transportation.