Pothole-filled highways, roads causing headaches for Wisconsin residents, as election looms closer

Highway 78 emergency resurfacing project started
Pothole-filled highways, roads causing headaches for Wisconsin residents, as election looms closer

If you live in Wisconsin, you’ve likely driven on a road covered in potholes and bumps.

“I don’t understand it. They can fix them in the big cities, but why can’t they fix them out here in these little towns?” asked Nancy Schmitz.

Schmitz lives off Highway 78 between Merrimac and Prairie du Sac, a stretch she said was exacerbating her back problems because the road was so bumpy.

In 2009, the road was completely redone, which cost $9 million, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, but in February of this year, residents said it was falling apart again. One man even petitioned the state to fix it.

“They’ve got to keep going to (DOT) meetings and really push them and get them to do something,” Schmitz said. “And finally, they did.”

Crews started an emergency asphalt repair project Monday that costs $1.3 million. The highway will be open while the project is underway. It’s scheduled to be finished Nov. 16.

DOT officials said the project will extend the service of the highway until a more significant project happens. A reconstruction project is slated for 2023 with possible advancement.

“We have roads up north — gravel roads — and they’re in better shape than this one, so I don’t know what they’re going to do to fix it,” Schmitz said. “It’s going to be the same way after they get it redone, I feel.”

Schmitz said she can understand why funding for roads and highways has become a key election issue.

During the first gubernatorial debate, the candidates for governor were asked how they would tackle the issue.

“Going forward, I’m going to bring together Republicans and Democrats. We’re not going to have a preconceived solution. I would prefer not to raise any taxes on this issue, but I’ll be listening to the people that we’re working with to solve this,” Democrat Tony Evers said.

“Our approach going forward is to give local governments the largest increases they’ve ever had, maintain our state highways and do it by not doing massive interchanges in Milwaukee as the state has done over the past decade,” said Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Evers has said “everything’s on the table” in paying to fix roads in Wisconsin, including raising the gas tax. Walker has said Evers would raise the gas tax up to $1 per gallon. However, during the debate, Evers said that will never happen.

People like Schmitz who live and work near bumpy and pothole-filled highways and roads are just hoping to get long-term solutions, so they can avoid spending their money on vehicle repairs.

“It wrecks people’s cars. You’ve got to get your cars fixed all the time. I mean, how can people afford it?” she said.

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