WisDot Audit: Coulee Region among worst road conditions in state

WisDot Audit: Coulee Region among...

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - A new Wisconsin Department of Transportation audit found some of the state's worst highways are right here in the Coulee Region.

The audit also found the DOT underestimated the cost of major highways by $3 billion.

Moreover, it found nearly a third of state highways in La Crosse County are in poor condition.

In comparison to other areas in the Midwest, La Crosse County only sits at 32 percent for good road conditions.      

Lawmakers say the troubling findings should serve as a wake-up call to start prioritizing the roads we travel on everyday.

Wisconsin representatives say the state is doing a poor job of prioritizing its funds.

"Here in Wisconsin we rely on the gas tax and on licensing and registration and other states diversify their funding mechanism, they have other ways of funding their improvements and funding of roads," said State Senator Jennifer Shilling.

In 2010, 53 percent of state highways were rated in good condition but that number decreased to 41 percent in 2015.

The Department of Transportation says it will continue to work with local communities and prioritize safety and operational needs. It says it will also use the audit report to help identify the necessary improvements that need to be made, because potholes and deteriorating roads are becoming an expensive impact on drivers.

"$6 billion from a report from last year, and that's in repairs, lost time," Shilling said.

She says it's time the legislature finds a long-term fix and come up with a plan before things get worse.

"I'm all for finding efficiencies within the department and processes that they have and putting out bids for projects."

Lawmakers also say while they are working to find solutions, they still can't come up with enough savings to cover the current billion dollar shortfall.

Plus, other state road projects that are either nearly complete or already underway, now add up to $5.8 billion.


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