Tourism leader fears road conditions will impact industry
WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (WMTV) -- As the debate for transportation funding heats up, a local tourism leader is chiming in.
Earlier this week, Governor Scott Walker sent a letter to the state's Department of Transportation Secretary requesting a complete transportation budget by September 15th. In the letter, Walker asked administrators to cut costs and designate those savings to local road and highway maintenance.
But some say that's just not enough. They fear the state of our roads is a crisis that could bring problems for a big industry.
"Millions and millions of people come to Wisconsin Dells every year and this is our life line right here," Tom Diehl said as he pointed to Highway 12. Its a road the co-owner of Tommy Bartlett Inc. says is overdue for some work. "Curb and gutter failure and of course, it gets under minded and washes out, the whole strip is like this."
Diehl says there are concerns if these roads remain, tourist won't stay.
"99% of the customers who come to Door County or the Dells are driving here. So the infrastructure of roads and the highway system is critical," Diehl said. "They want to make sure the area they're going to will be safe and they want to make sure that getting there is safe."
A concern travel experts say is very real.
"AAA has actually done some surveys where over 70% of travelers say that they are concerned about the state of roadways that they'll be traveling on," Nick Jarmusz with Wisconsin AAA, said.
So what's the answer to this bumpy issue? Some say more money. "We have a revenue gap at the DOT," Diehl said.
But Governor Walker's says a gas tax or vehicle registration fee is not the solution.
In a letter written to the DOT earlier this week, Walker said doing either of those would be "throwing a wet blanket on our growing economy." Adding, "we can spend what revenues we have more efficiently and effectively by setting these priorities and living within our means."
NBC15 did reach out to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Ad official says they are working on the budget request and will submit it by September 15th. They say they'll have more to share after that time.