Fix the damn roads, Tony: Wisconsin slips in roads ranking

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — At a recent campaign event, Gov. Tony Evers took a premature victory lap on his 2018 campaign promise to “fix the damn roads.”

“I ran on fixing the damn roads,” the governor said during the “WisDems One Year to Win” launch.

He didn’t just run on it, his campaign and roadbuilder pals mercilessly pounded then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, on what they characterized as the poor state of Wisconsin’s roads.

“And I know there will be people in the room saying, ‘not mine,’ but we have fixed over a thousand miles of roads here in the the state of Wisconsin,” Evers claimed.

But a new report tracking state highway systems shows Wisconsin has slipped to 26th nationally  — down four slots — during Evers’ tenure.

Reason Foundation’s 26th Annual Highway Report rates states on overall cost-effectiveness and condition of their state highway systems. The Badger State ranks in the bottom 20 in all four pavement metrics of the report.

“Arterial pavement is particularly poor. Almost 2% of Wisconsin’s rural arterial pavement is in poor condition, 2.5 times as much as peer state Michigan and twice as much as peer state Minnesota. Approximately 17% of Wisconsin’s urban arterial pavement is in poor condition, four times as much as Minnesota and about the same amount as Michigan,” the report states.

Wisconsin ranked 41st in rural arterial pavement condition, and the same in urban arterial pavement condition.

The state’s best rankings are in overall fatality rate (11th) and in urban fatality rate (11th).

Wisconsin spends $85,343 per mile of state-controlled road, according to the report. It ranks 29th in total spending per mile and 28th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

The Badger State boasts the 19th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Wisconsin needs to improve its arterial pavement quality. Wisconsin ranks in the bottom 10 in both arterial pavement quality rankings,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Wisconsin might need to devote additional resources to its pavement quality.”

Remember that the next time Evers is out doing pothole-filling photo ops. The governor is a long way from fixing “the damn roads.”

Worst Roads in Wisconsin

What are the worst state roads in the Badger State?

As you’re traveling over the river and through the woods this Thanksgiving weekend, snap a photo of the “damn roads” Evers’ Department of Transportation has failed to fix. Send your pics to Empower Wisconsin and we’ll post them on our Facebook page. Email to

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One response to “Fix the damn roads, Tony: Wisconsin slips in roads ranking”

  1. Harold Wilkes Avatar
    Harold Wilkes

    Like a limping, seven-fingered, weekend handyman with black thumbnails, Tony “fixes” things…the school system, the unemployment system, the election system, the road system. Thank God he didn’t become a surgeon. BTW if we label them “rustic roads”, they become a tourist attraction.

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