Wisconsin may see some movement on state transportation issues now that a diverse task force has been appointed and is meeting to explore options.
Gov. Tony Evers announced the first meeting of the task force on Jan. 31, describing the stakeholders as a group comprised of experts who understand and represent the comprehensive needs of Wisconsin’s transportation system.
Craig Thompson, Department of Transportation Secretary designee, called the meetings the beginning of an important process.
“I look forward to working with this group of stakeholders and finding responsible, bipartisan solutions to address Wisconsin’s transportation challenges,” Thompson said.
Jerry Deschane, director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, was one of more than a dozen stakeholders on the task force.
“The goal, as I understand it, Gov. Evers as he promised to do, brought in a really diverse group of people and said here is the work that’s been done on transportation, and here is where we need to go,” Deschane said.
Stakeholders learned about the Department of Transportation’s work at that initial meeting and what cities, villages and towns are doing, he said.
A second day-long meeting was planned for Monday to learn where the state could go and should go to improve transportation, Deschane said.
Asked what Deschane had heard from municipal leaders about the issues, he said, “I think the word is ‘help’ with an exclamation point.”
With lack of funds in the transportation budget, the focus has been on state projects rather than local projects, Deschane said.
Municipalities facing state imposed levy limits are feeling a “double whammy,” Deschane said.
“They’re not seeing the support they did years ago,” he said.
He noted in Stoughton, where he lives, Hwy. 51 needs rebuilding and the state lacks the resources to do so.
“We have this wonderful asset. A transportation system is like having a really nice house. You’ve got to maintain it,” Deschane said.