Rethinking Wisconsin's Highways

At a July 24 event, the Badger Institute hosted preeminent transportation expert Bob Poole to discuss Rethinking Wisconsin’s Highways. Poole made the case that highways should be treated like public utilities to create a self-supporting infrastructure that responds to economic, not political, realities.


The road to driverless transit

As the world moves forward with automated vehicles, including autonomous transit, Milwaukee clings to 19th century technology. While millennials may be amused by the novelty of a streetcar, they are infatuated with a bus that drives itself.


Tolling is the only realistic solution to transportation funding dilemma

Wisconsin ranks 38th in the latest state highway systems report. Revenue from gas taxes will slowly disappear in the years to come. More debt is not the answer, either. All told, we spend over a half-billion dollars per year just servicing transportation-related debt.


Value-added tolling would address Gov. Walker's concerns

Press release: Operational costs likely to be around 5 percent. “The stars seem to be aligned for Wisconsin to join the ranks of states deciding to rebuild and modernize their Interstate highways using the revenues from all-electronic tolling,” said Robert W. Poole Jr., director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation.


Look down the road in transportation funding debate

Right now, three major sources of revenue — the state gas tax, the federal government and bonding — are problematic and unsustainable. Wisconsin legislators need to get it in gear and plan for the future.  


Interstate tolling: Bob Poole webinar

Interstate Tolling for Wisconsin: How & Why, a webinar presentation by Bob Poole, director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation. In the June 2017 webinar, Poole explains the potential benefits of all-electronic interstate tolling for Wisconsin.


Wisconsin should act now on Interstate tolling

High-quality infrastructure is a key factor in business location decisions and economic competitiveness. Wisconsin needs to solve its highway funding shortfall, and toll-financed Interstate modernization is a powerful tool for doing so.

Toll roads in Wisconsin

Revenue from tolling could help solve state's transportation funding dilemma. Tolling, once dismissed as impossible in the Badger State due to lack of federal approval and to local opposition based largely on antiquated notions of how it might work, now appears quite possible.


Ridesharing helps curb drunken driving

There is evidence that some inebriated Wisconsinites are starting to make better decisions due to the increasing availability of ridesharing. The rideshare model — as compared to the taxi model — lowers costs, makes the process immensely simple and convenient, and can save lives and reduce injury by keeping dangerous drivers off the road.


The right way to modernize Wisconsin's interstates

A moderate toll collected electronically could generate enough revenue over the next 30 years to create Wisconsin’s second-generation Interstate system. There is growing evidence that highway-user groups could support a carefully crafted user-friendly policy such as “value-added tolling.”


Cab ride to the future

The rise of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft shows how tech innovation and deregulation benefit society. The upending of the cab industry provides a perfect case study for what happens when software transforms consumer markets, forcing change on outdated governmental operations.



Rebuilding and modernizing Wisconsin's interstates with toll financing

Based on a 30-year program of reconstruction and assuming moderate toll rates comparable to those on other toll road systems, the study estimates that the entire rural Interstate program could be financed by toll revenue bonds.

The Wisconsin state highway system: Needs and resources 2011-2020

Study assesses the condition and 10-year needs of Wisconsin's State Highway System. It estimates the costs of addressing deficiencies, adding new or expanded facilities, bringing the system up to prudent standards, maintenance and administration.

Press release: Wisconsin facing a long, rough road on state highway funding

A comprehensive study by one of the nation’s foremost transportation policy and planning experts has concluded that even modest maintenance, repairs and expansion of Wisconsin’s State Highway System over the next 10 years will result in a funding gap – given realistic revenue trends – of almost $1 billion per year.

Rebuilding the Marquette Interchange via a public-private partnership

Report by Robert Poole Jr. and Kevin Soucie says experience in other transportation systems throughout North America indicates that it could be cost-effective to privatize the funding of the Marquette Interchange rebuilding project. The technology that would be introduced for tolling would eliminate the need for any kind of toll booth and the pricing would be based on time-of-day usage..

Light rail in Milwaukee

A report by Wendell Cox paints a picture of light rail not fulfilling its promises of reducing congestion and pollution and switching riders to public transportation. Across the country, the costs of light rail have ranged anywhere from expensive to wildly extravagant. Light rail is not the answer to southeast Wisconsin’s transportation problem.