Counties answer DOT road report

A recent inventory conducted by the Wisconsin County Highway Association (WCHA) found that a mile of county road constructed today will not be reconstructed for another 196 years. This is based on the average number of miles reconstructed in the last five years.

The inventory asked all 72 county highway commissioners three simple questions:

• How many miles of county roads do you have under your responsibility?

• How many miles of county roads have you reconstructed in the last five years?

• How many miles of county roads have you resurfaced in the last five years?

The survey also shows that very few miles of county roads are being resurfaced each year. Based on the data from the inventory, county residents will have to wait 56 years just to have their road resurfaced.

Under best practices, a county road is generally engineered to last 40- 50 years and should be resurfaced every 20-25 years.

This stands in direct contrast to a statement recently from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The release states that 91 percent of the local road system in Wisconsin is in “fair or above” condition. Unfortunately, this analysis is, at best, a poor interpretation of the data that is provided to DOT or at worst, just wrong.

A simple drive over many of these local roads will lead drivers to this same conclusion that Wisconsin’s road system is deteriorating.

“We all know that it is unrealistic to expect a road to last almost 200 years,” said Dan Fedderly, WCHA executive director. “We simply cannot be giving the public or our Legislative leaders, who are responsible for adequate transportation funding, a false impression by recklessly stating that 91 percent of local roads are in ‘fair or above’ condition,” concluded Fedderly.

The Wisconsin County Highway Association and the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA) represent all of the county highway departments in Wisconsin. These county highway departments have a unique responsibility in the nation in that they are responsible for conducting all maintenance on the state trunk highway system in Wisconsin, as well as maintenance and construction on the entire county trunk highway system throughout the state.

This unique responsibility, taken on by Wisconsin’s county highway departments, provides an opportunity for our members to have very strong knowledge and firsthand experience of the state and county highway system conditions throughout Wisconsin.

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