Four lane to Fond du Lac delay not good for us

CALL IT A CASE of unforeseen consequences. With people driving less these days, and doing their driving in more fuel-efficient vehicles, the state’s gasoline tax revenues are declining.

That means that the state Department of Transportation has less funds available for major road projects.

And that means that the expansion of State 23 to four lanes from Plymouth to Fond du Lac is being delayed once again.

Four lanes to Fond du Lac has been a dream of many here in Sheboygan County – and those who travel to and from Sheboygan County – for many years.

It seemed like it would become a reality soon when the project was enumerated in the 1999 state budget – putting it on the priority list for construction.

It was first set to go in 2013, then got pushed back to 2015. When the DOT was faced with its budget shortfall earlier this year, the State 23 project got pushed down the road again – to 2018 this time.

There is no doubt that four lanes to Fond du Lac is needed. Even with any decline in driving overall, State 23 is still a vital corridor for commercial and tourist traffic, as well as local driving.

It connects Sheboygan County to Fond du Lac, the Fox Cities, Madison and many other points west directly. Making it four lanes all the way to Fond du Lac will make a quicker and easier connection to all those places and more, allowing business to go to and from them and bring tourists and visitors from them to Sheboygan County – all of which is good for our economy.

But who knows how many more delays the

State 23 project will face if current gas tax revenue trends continue.

A commission appointed by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011 suggested several remedies to shore up badlyneeded funds for road projects, including a fivecent increase in the gas tax, increasing driver’s license fees and auto registration fees based on miles driven.

Walker and the Legislature rebuffed all of those suggestions, instead opting to transfer money from other state funds and borrow close to $1 billion for highway projects – all of which still left the DOT almost $60 million short, forcing the State 23 highway project delay.

It’s time for Republicans in Madison to bend on their uncompromising no-tax increase stance before the state falls too far behind in road work or goes too far into debt, neither of which is good for the state as a whole.

An increase in the gas tax, for instance, would be paid by many out-of-state drivers coming to or through Wisconsin as well as state residents, easing the burden on Wisconsinites – and with gasoline prices where they are, would another nickel a gallon really be all that painful?

Certainly not as painful as the prospect of traffic coming into Sheboygan County from the west for everyday business and special events like the upcoming PGA golf tournament in 2015 being squeezed down to two lanes before they can get here.

At issue:
Highway fund shortfall
Bottom line:
Find a way to fund projects

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