Transportation funding: A no-frills solution
By State Representative Jesse Kremer
There has been a lot of talk about the impending squeeze on general transportation funds over the next few years. Although this will likely take place, most of the input that I have received is very nearsighted; asking, “How can we increase the revenue stream?" I see the situation from a different perspective. The question I would like to ask is, “How can we be more efficient and cut the frills?"
As a bicyclist, it is wonderful to have a slightly wider road with a bike path — but really, is it a necessity? Who is going to pay for the extra pavement and ongoing maintenance? Do we really need to gobble up acres of land to install four roundabouts in a row because some engineer in an office decides that it works on paper? Are the over 600 (and counting) railroad crossing arms at interstate on-ramps worth $12 - 15,000 apiece? And, although it looks pretty, do we need stamped concrete on the undersides of overpasses so that fishermen can look up and see some artwork?
Currently, up to 1.5 percent of a road project’s budget can be used for “beautification.” The math on a $100 million project? $1.5 million! While we can all likely agree that these “extras” may serve some narrow purpose; are they absolutely necessary when weighed against increasing the gas tax or vehicle registration fees? I think taxpayers sent a resounding “no” to Madison last November.
As a parallel, our family, along with most other families in the district, has been on a very tight personal budget for years. We’ve made tough decisions to remain solvent by working multiple jobs, cutting extras like cable and purchasing eyeglasses online for $15 a pair. Why? Because we as a family must live within our means. I believe that we, as a state, should demand that our agencies do the same.
Representative Jesse Kremer