Just after his budget address, the governor says he's open to the idea of tollways in our state.
Governor Jim Doyle has always expressed his opposition to tolls on Wisconsin highways, but amid falling gas tax revenues Doyle tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that something's got to be done to generate money for the state's transportation fund.
"And I really commend the governor for that. If we look at the future of funding transportation relying as heavily on the gasoline tax as we do now just is not sustainable as we move toward alternative powered vehicles and the like. So tolling, among other options, I think needs to be on the table."
Craig Thompson of the Transportation Development Association says it won't take as long as you might think to get a return after implementing the tolls. Thompson says the amount of time it takes to build a tollway is reduced, and electronic transponders keep costs down.
"And it's also a lot easier for people to use than the old tolls where you had to stop and throw money into the bucket. The open road tolling that we see now in Illinois and other places really does make it feasible I think to fund our roads and transportation and not be a nuisance to the driving public."
Also, Thompson says with tolls, out of state motorists would have to contribute to our transportation fund. Another option? Sort of a GPS device in each vehicle allowing motorists to be charged for the miles they actually drive, despite their choice of fuel. Thompson says his folks are in discussions with the governor's people in hopes of finding solutions to the funding problems. Wisconsin's transportation fund depends primarily on the gas tax. Vehicle registration and driver's license fees also help the fund.