Not to pursue toll roads in Wisconsin

Toll roads are not an option in Wisconsin without federal approval and are not on my agenda.


Journal Sentinel, On the Issues, 2014


First step in a pursuit: Do a study

During his run for re-election in 2014, Gov. Scott Walker promised that "toll roads are not on my agenda."

But soon, they were -- at least as a possible option.

Less than two weeks after Walker defeated Democrat Mary Burke, there was news that Mark Gottlieb, his transportation secretary, wanted to study the feasibility of tolling.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

Gottlieb asked for more than $1 million to hire a consultant to study for 18 months the feasibility of tolling Wisconsin's highways and bridges. The study would look at where tolls could be established, gauge public opinion on the issue and recommend how to oversee a tolling system. "This data will help us understand where tolling might make sense as well as give us a better understanding of what it would take to implement here in (Wisconsin)," a DOT spokeswoman said.

The contract was awarded to HNTB Corp. and the study is expected to be finished in November 2016.  

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson emphasized that toll roads in Wisconsin would require approval from the federal government, and that Walker has not made such a request. Evenson also said the state is also studying other transportation options, not only toll roads.

A footnote:

Toll roads haven't always been a dead-end with Walker. A few days after Walker was first elected in 2010, we gave him a Half Flip on our Flip-O-Meter for a partial change in his position.

He said he didn't support full-fledged toll roads, which require every driver to pay; but that he was open to adding faster-moving toll lane to freeways, which drivers would pay to use.

Whether the study leads to toll roads remains to be seen. But a study of their feasibility certainly is a step toward the possibility of making them happen.

We rate this promise Stalled.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "DOT plan would study toll roads, fees based on miles driven," Nov. 18, 2014

Wisconsin State Journal, "On road funding, GOP lawmakers say they're ready for a real fix," Nov. 13, 2015

Badger Herald, "Toll talks: How to pay for Wisconsin's roads," Nov. 9, 2015

Email, Wisconsin Department of Transportation spokeswoman Patty Mayers, May 24, 2016

Email, Gov. Scott Walker deputy communications director Tom Evenson, May 24, 2016