Roads We Don’t Need

As the transportation budget continues to be debated, this story is timely.

Their idea: Wisconsin, in this year’s budget, should consider not wasting a bunch of money on highway expansion projects we don’t need.

Take a close look at the traffic projections used by the state Department of Transportation, Hiniker said. They just don’t hold up. The 1000 Friends, an environmental advocacy group, had published a study of the data that found that WisDOT consistently overstated what future traffic would be.

Because the projections were wrong, at least some of the highway expansions that the department was always recommending — and by the way, state highway expansions is a distinct category of government spending, not the same as the money spent on fixing potholes and maintaining our local roads — were unnecessary.

Of course, the study is from a lefty advocacy group. Their study is hardly exhaustive, but does have a lot of good examples of roads that were expanded to accommodate traffic that never came. It confirms the anecdotal experiences that many of us who drive a lot around the state have seen of beautiful, wide, smooth roads with nobody on them.

Again, the “problem” with the transportation budget is a spending problem driven by a powerful road building lobby. It has nothing to do with “adequate” funding.