Boots & Sabers

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0704, 02 Mar 17

Digging Into Transportation Spending

The MacIver Institute does the math on Wisconsin’s transportation budget and it isn’t pretty. This comparison jumps out at me.


Much of the debate over the upcoming transportation budget is being framed with some basic assumptions that need to be challenged. The basic argument being used is, “the roads suck and we need more money, so should we borrow it or raise taxes?”

Before we even get to that question, lawmakers need much more visibility on how the DOT is spending money and what their priorities are. The data indicates that Wisconsin spends an metric crap-ton more on transportation than comparable states and has worse roads. Why? Why are we spending money on more expansion at the expense of maintaining the roads we have? How many times has the DOT’s traffic estimates which were used to justify expansion fallen short? (hint: many). What policies are unnecessarily driving up the cost of road work (bidding process, prevailing wage requirements, design requirements, etc.)?

We may get to the point that we need to seriously consider more transportation spending, but we are nowhere near that point yet. The evidence indicates that the DOT has been a poorly run agency that overspends on poor priorities for decades. Until that ship is put right, more money will only encourage more bad behavior.


0704, 02 March 2017


  1. Brian

    They couldn’t come up with a clearer graph than that? Seriously?

  2. Le Roi du Nord

    Once again I’ll say it;  there is not enough information cited in the study to make an “apples to apples” comparison between states.  Just using lane miles doesn’t mean a thing unless they are the same type of project.As always, the devil is in the details.

  3. billphoto

    Well, if you read the MacIver article, they state “the auditors found the DOT regularly breaks state law in budgeting, negotiating, communicating, and managing contracts. Among these statutory violations: the department does not always solicit bids from more than one vendor, it does not spread out solicitations throughout the year, it does not post required information on its website, its cost estimates to the governor are incomplete, and it skips steps in the evaluation process for selecting projects” so maybe there is some truth to this study.  Or maybe, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  Opps, I plagiarized that from Bill Clinton.

    Before anyone decides to defend the bureaucrats at DOT, take a ride to Cabela’s in Richfield and admire the 5 unnecessary roundabouts that also required completely rebuilding two bridges.  Millions down the toilet.  Looks like time to drain the swamp at DOT.

  4. Brian

    To Bill’s point, every construction project seems so over the top to be ludicrous. The 41/45 exchange in Oshkosh is so much larger and complex than it needs to be, not to mention is butt ugly. The new highway 10 construction over 41 in the Fox Cities looks to be equally complex and over the top.

  5. Le Roi du Nord

    All the 41 work south of Green Bay had to meet standards for Interstate highways, which are markedly different than USH or STH design standards.  If you don’t like the way aspects of 41 turned out, thank Reps Sensenbrenner and Petri, as they got Interstate designation for 41 placed in the Federal Highway bill over the objections of WDOT about 12 years ago.

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