Senator Marklein nails it. The “fix” for the transportation budget isn’t a massive single fix. It is making thousands of smaller decisions in a smarter way.
In fact, most of our county highway commissioners feel that many DOT projects are over-engineered and over-designed, which add significant costs. A bridge project in the town of Sylvan in Richland County is a good example of this issue. The design and oversight costs of this project were 37 percent of the total project cost of $362,094.94. We spent $47,306.48 for design, $15,000.00 for design oversight and $70,000 for construction oversight. The actual construction cost is $229,788.46.
Let’s face it, the roads in southwest Wisconsin are in poor condition. We know that right now, we could spend millions to fix the roads in our communities without a multitude of studies to assess need. Our highway commissioners know where our priorities should be and are poised to recommend projects that will have an immediate, positive impact on our communities and local economies.
Overall, I think there are opportunities in the findings of this audit. We have the opportunity to be more efficient in planning, design and actual construction. We spend an unbelievable amount of money before we ever put a shovel into the ground. While planning is necessary, the amount of planning is unreasonable. The DOT is planning for projects that are 25 years into our future, while we can’t afford the projects that we already have on the books.
This audit also shows us that despite the amount of money and time spent in planning, the DOT hasn’t been taking important factors into consideration as they plan. What good is planning if it is incomplete?
And the MacIver Institute set out to actually show us the bridge that Senator Marklein referenced. It is really hard to look at that bridge and justify why the DOT spent $362k on it.