Bob Haase’s Another Can Of Worms

Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation $680 Million Shortfall

Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb announced that they are considering raising the gas tax and increasing registration fees to help the projected budget shortfall that could be as high as $680 million dollars.  Wisconsin’s 32.9 cents per gallon gas tax is the seventh highest in the nation and they are talking about raising it another 5 cents per gallon.

Not long ago I wrote about a section of highway 23 near Princeton where they put a block wall up where there was just an earth bank before and then put a guard rail in front of the wall.  It is on a straight section of highway and serves no useful purpose.  If your car were to go off the road before it would have hit an earth bank like is shown in the picture on either side of the block wall.  Now the earth bank is protected by a block wall and guard rail.  This was part of the highway 23 reconstruction project and they must have wanted to use up any extra money.  If you ever travel west on highway 23 toward Princeton, look at the wall and guard rail shown in the picture that is located just east of the  intersection with highway 73.  Maybe you can figure some logical reason for putting it there but I sure can’t.

Think about the highway 41 road construction in Oshkosh and Green Bay.  Think about all the roundabouts that everyone likes so well.  They only cost about three times more to build than a normal intersection.  Roundabouts are suppose to reduce more serious accidents but they increase minor accidents.  They are putting roundabout in locations where they never had a serious accident before so what was the real reason for putting them in there?

The point I am trying to make is that our government overspends and then tries to find more ways to collect money rather than finding ways to become more efficient and spend less money.  One problem is that the civil engineers that design highways get paid a percentage of the cost of the total project.  If they design a section of highway at a cost of 100 million dollars they get a percentage of that amount for the designing it.  If they can increase the cost of the project to 400 million dollars they get a percentage of that instead.  There is no incentive for designing a cost effective highway, but plenty of incentives to make it as expensive as they can.  After all we are the one’s paying for it and it looks like we might be paying a lot more.

As you drive down the highway consider the most important part of the highway and that is providing a safe highway design, and providing construction techniques that will last as long as possible.  All the fancy extras do is add cost that we are paying for and could be used to resurface other roads that need it.  If there is a $680 dollar shortfall in the budget for road construction, I think we need to start looking for ways to build better roads for less and not look for more ways to collect more money.

Bob Haase is the host of “Outdoors Thursday” heard Thursday mornings at 9:10 a.m. on News-Talk 1450 KFIZ.