Sunday, May 20, 2007

If Toll Roads Come Here, Kevin Soucie Will Say "Told You So"

The trust fund that pays for most new highway construction in Wisconsin and across the country is under stress.

Kevin Soucie - - singer, lobbyist, and former Wisconsin state legislator from Milwaukee - - has been pushing this for years.

While his arguments have not grabbed the public's attention in a state that hates toll roads because Illinois loves them, Soucie has been right about one thing consistently:

Wisconsin taxpayers cannot afford all the major highway expansion, such as the southeastern regional freeway build-out, that state government has been regularly promoting.

And which regional planners recommended without a care in the world for potential financing.

Raising the state gas tax isn't going to happen, and vehicle user fees have their limits, too, as does that pot of once-more-plentiful federal funding, data show.

Soucie's solution for Wisconsin is to urge the beginning of tolling.

Other states are moving in that direction, though there has been opposition once the reality sunk in.

A major conversion in transportation policy from highway to transit funding would be preferable for a progressive state like Wisconsin which has, paradoxically, short-changed transit for decades.

(Well, not so paradoxically, as the road-building lobby is more powerful and politically generous with donations than are groups serving transit users.)

Regardless, Soucie's a transit backer too, and his power point presentation is a very professional production that is well worth your time if it comes for a viewing to a neighborhood near yours.


Unknown said...

I do not think we can. The highway funding was always linked to us not having tolls. Maybe the funding is so minimal it won't make a difference.

If we can I'd suggest a slightly different model that Ill. We let the cities do the tolling at the city limits. There are way too many expenses for a city like Milwaukee and Madison where the prime beneficiaries pay nothing towards it.


Kevin Soucie is a lobbyist for the railroad industry. Anything he can do to increase the cost of trucking in Wisconsin will benefit his client.

James Rowen said...

While I don't agree with Soucie's position, I think it's less Machiavellian than you suggest.