VernonReporter

Wisconsin Secretary of Transportation, State Senator Pfaff hold listening session with local governments

Viroqua, WIs. – The message from Wisconsin Secretary of Transportation Craig Thompson to local government officials was help is on the way, but there is more work to do on local transportation aid.

State Senator Brad Pfaff (D-Onalaska) hosted a listening session with Thompson and local government representatives in Viroqua on Monday night at the Vernon County Courthouse. Pfaff said he invited Thompson to specifically update local government officials on the status of the state transportation funding and efforts to increase local road funding. There were numerous county and town board members in attendance from Vernon and surrounding counties.

Thompson said Governor Evers campaigned both times he ran for governor on the slogan “fix the dang roads” and he said they are making progress in getting the states roadways up to par. Thompson said Wisconsin had not invested enough in road building or maintenance since the Thompson administration but an increase in auto registration fees went directly to transportation and the Governor has proposed a number of other changes to help maintain the states road, specifically local roads.

Thompson and Pfaff said the Governor has proposed increasing the General Transportation Aid (GTA) program to local governments by four percent in 2024 and another four percent in 2025. The same increase of four percent each year in Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) is proposed in both 2024 and 2025.

Pfaff said he has cosponsored a bill (SB 247) to create the Agricultural Road Improvement Program (ARIP) that would aim to help local governments make improvements to agricultural roads or roads that qualify based on a number of factors including being subject to road bans. Under the bill those roads would be 100 percent funded and improved to a standard that would not require weight restrictions after they are improved. The bill proposed a $150 million be set aside for the program.

Both Thompson and Pfaff spent the better part of the session listening to county and town officials describe specific issues and problems they are facing in their districts. some townships described bridge failures that have caused them to close roads with little hope of fixing them because they are too small to qualify for most of the state or federal programs and even coming up with match dollars if a grant is found is difficult for some small townships.

Thompson said they have increased local aids since he has been in office and by 2026 they will have doubled the amount of assistance to local governments, but he also acknowledged there is a lot of work left to do to get rural roads up to par.

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