A new report says Wisconsin could collect billions of dollars by creating toll roads in the state.
The study released by the state Department of Transportation shows tolls on the Wisconsin’s interstate system would generate between $14 billion and $41 billion in revenue from 2020 through 2050, if the state were to receive federal approval to create them. The estimates are part of a solvency report prepared by the firm of HNTB Corporation, which was commissioned through the DOT by lawmakers under the current state budget.
If lawmakers delay new road planning and the state does not exceed current revenue projections, the study found the condition of Wisconsin’s transportation system will continue to decline over the next decade.
The report also highlights other potential revenue options for the state, such as charging drivers a fee based on the number of miles driven in a year, charging a highway use fee on new vehicle sales, and making a number of changes to vehicle-related taxes or fees.
The study is expected to help guide lawmakers as they begin work on a budget that needs to deal with a nearly $1 billion shortfall in the state’s transportation fund. Governor Scott Walker and many Republican lawmakers are already at odds over how to address the issue. The governor has advocating for delaying projects and strongly opposes raising taxes or fees, while Assembly leaders want to at least explore a tax or fee increases to generate new revenue.
A spokesman for Governor Walker said the report would be helpful for lawmakers during the coming budget talks, and also noted that the state had not done a study on tolling in more than three decades. Still, Tom Evenson said the governor “will not go back on his promise to voters to not increase taxes without a commensurate reduction in taxes elsewhere.”