Wisconsin roads crumbling despite spending more money

By Emma Henderson, WSAW News

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - 70 percent of roads in Portage County need some type of repair, but according to the state, the money just isn't there.

"A lot of people are concerned about the direction our state is heading and why we are collecting income taxes when a lot of those taxes aren't being spent on their priorities," State Representative Katrina Shankland said. "Overall, I think people are worried about the next budget."

A new Department of Transportation audit shows that the state could have saved almost $300 million over the past decade if it had kept up on road maintenance.

The issue is becoming concerning for some drivers like Sarah Cronk.

"It shakes so much when you go over it you don't know what you're hitting or what's happening with the tires, yeah, it's very disconcerting," Cronk said.

Other people, like John Brown haven't had any issues.

"Usually my street has a lot of potholes, but they fixed it three years ago and now it's good," Brown said.

"Wisconsin falls behind all other six Midwestern states as in road quality, and in the international roughness index, only 32% of Wisconsin roads are considered good quality," Shankland said.

20% of the roads in Portage County that need repairs have "significant" damage. Right now, Nathan Check, the Portage County Highway Commissioner says they are doing everything they can with the budget just to try and keep drivers safe.

Check says that soon, it will be more expensive to repair the roads than replace them.

"A lot of it is getting to that breaking point where it can no longer be maintained, it needs to be reconstructed, which leads to a higher cost," Check said. He also said there is no clear solution to the problem.

The Department of Transportation is currently facing a $1 billion shortfall according to DOT audit findings.