Despite the well-publicized lack of maintenance on state roadways, the majority of Wisconsin’s transportation spending goes toward new roads instead of the maintenance and repair of existing roads.

Two different groups – Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense – both came to the same conclusion: most states spend too much on new roads instead of keeping the ones they have safe and in good shape, according to a story from Governing magazine.

Smart Growth America focuses on curbing urban sprawl and Taxpayers for Common Sense focuses on finding wasteful spending in federal budgets.

Between 2009 and 2011, an average of 45 percent of state transportation spending is allocated for existing roads while the rest – 55 percent – is funneled to new roads. The studies did not take the 2009 stimulus bill – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – into account, the story reads.

Not surprisingly, maybe, the studies point out, is that politicians “gravitate to new projects that are highly visible rather than small repairs that may go unnoticed by the public.”

Here in Wisconsin, state lawmakers spent 61 percent – about $544 million – on new infrastructure and only 39 percent – $349 million – on making necessary repairs on existing roadways.

On-going funding for roads continues to be a challenge for the state because not only are residents driving less, but when they do, they’re also driving more fuel efficient cars, generating less money through the fuel tax. The same issue effects federal roads funding, which funnels money to states.

The Governing story notes that efforts in Washington – from both President Barack Obama and Congress – are underway to increase funding for infrastructure maintenance and repair.

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