One of the arguments for repealing Wisconsin’s successful Complete Streets law is that it is adding to the cost of road projects.
Well, the official numbers are in and the answer is it is adding costs… to the tune of all of .006%. That’s right. You can read that number not as “six percent,” not as “six-tenths of one percent”, not even as “six one-hundredths of one percent,” but as “six-one-thousandths of one percent.”
The highly respected and nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau in a paper that came out just last week estimated the costs of the program at $190,000 a year in an overall state transportation budget that runs about $3,250,000,000 annually.
It turns out you would have to eliminate some 3,578 programs of that size in order to make up the $680 million annual deficit the DOT is projected to be running in what it needs to keep up with all the state’s transportation needs.
And, in fact, costs may actually be higher if the program is eliminated. Retrofitting streets and roads with bicycle or pedestrian facilities when a need is determined after a project is built is much more expensive than doing it at the time of reconstruction.
And that’s just the actual construction costs. What if we dig deeper? Smart Growth America reports that they found $18 million in annual savings from fewer crashes, injuries and deaths in just the 37 Complete Streets projects they studied.
Moreover, the SGA found that complete streets treatments increased property values. To quote the report:
So, let’s recap.
Complete Streets have been shown to cost all of six one-thousandths of one percent of the state transportation budget.
They save money over retrofitting later on.
They result in savings in the costs of deaths, injuries and property damage avoided because streets are safer for everyone.
They probably add to property tax revenues because of increased values and sales and income tax revenues due to more businesses and jobs along them.
And, so it’s good fiscal policy to eliminate Complete Streets because…???
The vote on Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to eliminate the state’s Complete Streets policy may happen this week. Please share this analysis with the members of the Joint Finance Committee.
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