Lawmakers weigh in on tollway possibility

By Brianna Hollis, WAOW News

CENTRAL WISCONSIN (WAOW) - As lawmakers begin their terms this week, tackling the road budget is a hot topic.

Adding toll roads in Wisconsin to pay for repairs is an option being discussed.

"Everything's on the table," said State Rep. Pat Snyder (R-85).

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are waiting for more information, but agree on a few key points.

"The one thing that is critical is roads," Snyder said.

"We need to invest in our roads now," added Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-71). "We cannot afford to wait."

Before they make a decision, they want to know  how the move would impact tourism and jobs.

Meanwhile, Shankland said she believes the Walker administration is avoiding the issue of finding a way to pay for roads, and is calling on the governor to make a decision.

"I think the governor is punting because he has already said he won't support increases in the gas tax and registration fees," she said. "But he would support tolling. And let's be clear, all of those are increases in fees, right?"

Additionally, if lawmakers do decide to pursue the toll agenda, there are hurdles that need to be crossed with the federal government.

"Some see it as a way to bring more revenue into transportation and it could be," said Sen. Jerry Petrowski, chair of the senate transportation committee. "But before anybody gets carried away, you have to realize we need the permission. Statute would need to be changed by the feds to even allow tolling on those roads."

Governor Scott Walker commissioned a study that suggested tollways could generate between $14 and $41 billion for the state between 2020 and 2050.