Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin and a longstanding proponent of a Dane County regional transit authority and commuter rail project, said the county is making a bad political move by trying to extend transit money for roads.
The Joint Committee on Finance last month approved the creation of a Dane County RTA with a half-cent sales tax increase to serve as its revenue source, but it limited the money to be spent on transit-related projects only. The county will continue to lobby the Legislature to include language authorizing the money to be used on road projects as well, said Topf Wells, chief of staff for Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
“It just makes sense,” Wells said. “An RTA is about multimodal transportation, and the point of multimodal transportation is not just limiting the focus to cars, trains or buses, but combining all of them.”
But Hiniker said it will lead to a continuing debate over where money should go that could sideline or derail transit projects.
“Roads have the Highway Trust Fund,” he said. “If that money is short, that’s another, separate issue.”