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Transportation budget proposes $66 million for road maintenance

MADISON (WKOW) — The weather has done a number on our roads and highways.

For the past two weeks, people have reported dozens of potholes to 27 News. With those reports we’re also getting questions from people who want to know where their wheel tax money is going.

More and more communities are looking to a wheel tax to take care of their aging roadways.

So far this year, six towns and two counties have imposed one.

But for state Department of Transportation secretary Craig Thompson, it shouldn’t be that way.

“I think it is concerning, it’s a band-aid approach,” Thompson said. “I give it to locals for trying to step up and meet their needs but we need some answers at the state level and we’ve just fallen down on that in the last decade.”

Many communities say the roads are still riddled with potholes even with a wheel tax, because the state isn’t giving them enough money to maintain their streets.

For example in Iowa County, there are 300 miles of road. Staff says the county’s wheel tax only collects enough to completely reconstruct less than one mile.

Governor Evers’ transportation budget seeks to help with local road maintenance by providing $66 million for filling potholes and fixing roads.

Thompson says it’s a start.

“[Would it] solve all their problems, no,” Thompson said. “It would put them at a historically high level and, if we can get the ongoing revenue that we’re proposing in this budget, it can get them on a path that would get locals on a good path.”

Thompson hopes this increase in funding will help take more preventative care.

“This budget, if passed, would give locals the ability to plan further into the future and we’ll make the dollars stretch further if we can do that,” he said.

Thompson said even though local municipalities will be getting this funding increase, they wouldn’t have to get rid of their current wheel taxes.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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