As the kids say: So I was driving around the Hallie-Chippewa Falls area the past couple weeks, and my attention was drawn to the roads in our area. Actually my wife called my attention to the roads because my truck was doing a fair amount of bouncing around. This disturbed my wife who was trying to text on her cellphone. A truck is not a Cadillac by any means, but I believe my truck is a better ride than her sub-compact car.
The Village of Lake Hallie has done a fair amount of chip sealing this year. A chip sealed road is usually grey in color with crushed rock or gravel spread over a coating of oil or asphalt. After you have been kind enough to drive on it for a while, the chip-sealed road is swept with a rotating brush and the loose material is collected.
The theory behind chip-sealing is that it preserves the road for a few years until something more significant can be done with the road usually tearing up the road and redoing it. For local officials, whole seminars are provided on road repair.
Local officials and municipal clerks also fill out a form called WISLAR, in which the local municipality rates the conditions of their roads. With state road aids dropping and costs going up, I believe that it is a waste of time. Yet I wish to ensure the DOT that it will get done.
The Legislature and the governor can’t seem to agree on how to fund road building. The transportation budget is about $1 billion in the hole. Local municipalities have revenue caps on them, so when does something give?
Chippewa Falls is working on the 124 bridge over the Chippewa River downtown, and the Town of Lafayette is patiently waiting for money to fund the bridge repair on 197th Street. The Cobban Bridge is awaiting its fate, and people in the Anson and Eagle Point Area want that issue resolved.
On the American Society of Civil Engineers’ report card for infrastructure in the United States — dams, schools, highways, ports and energy plants — we bring home a D+ on our report card. The dams and levees around Houston, Texas, were built in the 1930s and 1940s by the Roosevelt Administration and the WPA.
I hear that the first request for storm relief in Texas is going to be $14 billion and may go as high as $50 billion. That is an amazing amount of money. Why is it we always have the money to fix a building when it burns down but never have the money to put in fire sprinkler systems before the fire? The same thing applies with infrastructure.
A brief look into the problems shows that our government keeps raiding “trust fund accounts” everything from the Federal Highway Trust Fund to Social Security has been raided. Wisconsin used to have a gasoline tax that was linked to inflation and the Consumer Product Index. We quit doing that because “Hardworking Wisconsinites need to keep their hard earned dollars.”
We keep our hard earned dollars and then spend them on car repairs.
Soon the snow will fly, and before long we will see local communities trucking the salt/sand combination to sheds around Chippewa County. When that combination is spread on the roads this winter, the roads will deteriorate and break up. That leads to potholes, and the local papers and TV stations will be doing news stories on potholes. It seems to never end.
The highest rated infrastructure in the United States is the railroads and track. I can fully attest to that. Living on 40th Avenue in Lake Halle, I watch the Union Pacific work on that line quite often. The track has to be in shape because of the sand trains using it. It is in the railroads’ best interest to keep the track up.
There is a tremendous amount of infrastructure work needed in Chippewa County and the state of Wisconsin. We have a president who ran on infrastructure and a governor who wants to ensure that companies locate in Wisconsin. So, Don and Scott, cut the check to local municipalities, and we will get the job done.