Wisconsin infrastructure needs an upgrade
President Donald Trump announced his plan to deliver on his campaign promise of rebuilding America's infrastructure. Only $200 billion of the $1.5 trillion plan comes from federal dollars. The rest is intended to come from leveraging state and local government money.
The conversation about America's infrastructure needs is not new- and neither is the conversation about Wisconsin's. Wisconsin is ranked 49th in terms of road conditions. The American Society of Civil Engineers says 1,232 of Wisconsin's bridges are structurally deficient, there are 157 high hazard dams in the state, and $1 billion is needed over the next 20 years for drinking water needs.
All of these factors contribute to the D+ grade the ASCE gave the United States' infrastructure.
Wisconsin, though, can barely afford to maintain the roads that are already existing. Craig Thompson, Executive Director of the Transportation Development Association, said Wisconsin is continually running on about a $1 billion short of infrastructure needs.
"Once you get further behind, it just sort of compounds on itself and it gets harder and harder to address the needs that you need to," Thompson said.
Wsconsin's need for infrastructure upgrades is clear, but the likelihood the State will be able to receive any federal money is low.
"Wisconsin has put itself at a deficit versus our neighbors in the Midwest," said Thompson. "We have time to change that, but if we don't come up with a plan, I think we will see other states get some of that federal money and we'll be left by the wayside."
One way to fund these needed projects and get back on track, Thompson said, is to implement user fees.
"We've got to do it in a way that works for Wisconsin, but I think adjusting our user fees makes the most sense."