The story featured the decline of Wisconsin’s system and highlights Trempealeau County, with comments from WCHA Executive Director Dan Fedderly and Trempealeau County Highway Commissioner Al Rinka.
On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, the New York Times published an in-depth article, “The Struggle to Mend America’s Rural Roads.”
The article states, “Although just 19 percent of the country’s population lives in rural areas, those regions have 68 percent of the total lane and road miles, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The state’s gas tax, which is dedicated to transportation needs, has been unchanged since 2006. A proposal last year from Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, for an 8-cent increase was voted down by the Republican-led Legislature, which instead raised vehicle title and registration fees.
“In the last budget, the Legislature and governor did come up with some additional funding,” said Daniel J. Fedderly, executive director of the Wisconsin County Highway Association. “But the problem is it’s one-time funding and it’s not ongoing and it’s not sustainable.”
In Trempealeau, decades of underfunding have left the county of 29,000 people with roughly $60 million to $80 million worth of road repairs. Generally, there is no state or federal assistance to help cover the costs.
“The last time we received money to help with road projects was 2008,” said Al Rinka, commissioner of the county’s Highway Department.
The normal life span of an asphalt road is 30 years. The county’s 292 miles of roads are now averaging 74 years.
Read the full New York Times article, “The Struggle to Mend America’s Rural Roads, here.
You can also view a supporting story, “Wisconsin Rural Roads Receive National Attention, Deteriorating Condition Blamed on Lack of Funding,” on Channel3000.com here.