Increased county, federal funding is being invested in our roads.
Over $61 million will be invested in La Crosse County highways over the next five years to reduce the percentage of county roads that are in the worst condition by almost half.
About 81% of county highways are currently in good to fair condition. Between now and 2028, the county's Capital Improvement Plan will reconstruct 48.8 miles of road and repair 11 bridges. This will lead to a 47% reduction in roads with a PASER rating of less than 5.
"We are in a good position to accelerate progress in the coming years on improving the condition of county roads," said La Crosse County Highway Commissioner Joe Langeberg.
PASER ratings are used to determine the condition of the 281 miles of La Crosse County highways. The 1-10 rating system for pavement conditions was developed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Transportation Information Center and is used statewide.
The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and increased local funding have allowed the county to significantly raise spending on road projects. Soon after BIL was approved late in 2021, the county board passed $2.3 million in funding for design work. The goal was to ensure shovel ready projects would be in place for the anticipated influx of federal dollars. The approach is paying dividends, with the county expecting to receive $15.2 million in BIL funding over the next four years.
"Our Highway Department has done an excellent job pursuing the increased funding for roads made available by the federal government," said La Crosse County Board Chair Monica Kruse. "The result is that we are fixing more miles of roads than we have for decades. This is all the more remarkable considering that the cost of materials and manpower have greatly increased over the past several years. It shows that the county has strongly prioritized spending on roads to resolve the backlog."
Since 2018, the county has almost tripled annual spending on highway construction projects, from $2.5 million to over $7 million this year and in 2022. This has enabled the county to increase the average number of miles of road being repaired from about 5 miles a year (2014-2018) to over 9 miles in the new Capital Improvement Plan. The $61 million plan includes an estimated $38.8 million in county funding and $22.3 million in state funding.
"Funding for highway projects is competitive and the process can be complicated and lengthy," Langeberg said. "However, with the support of our county board we have done a good job stretching county dollars to maximize the outside funding we receive."
*The chart above shows the current condition of county highways in La Crosse County using the PASER rating system. PASER uses visual inspection to evaluate pavement surface conditions and can be used to compare the quality of roadway segment. The high end of the scale (10) is for newly constructed roads with no defects. Highways only stay as a 10 for one year, before moving down to a 9. At the bottom of the scale (1-2) pavements will have frequent potholes, cracks, and rutting.