Coronavirus takes its toll on Wisconsin transportation fund

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The coronavirus has taken its toll on Wisconsin's transportation fund, the state's primary source for road and infrastructure projects, according to a new report released Friday.

The nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum reported the top two revenue sources for the fund, fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, fell short of projections by more than $116 million in fiscal year 2020.

Travel plans changed last year for many Wisconsinites who opted to stay at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The forum report said the future remains unclear, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

"Even if the virus is in retreat by late 2021, it remains unclear if more widespread adoption of remote work or online shopping may cause longer-term changes in travel patterns after July 1, the start of the next two-year budget cycle," WPF said.

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A federal package passed in December could provide relief for the fund. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials estimates the package will provide Wisconsin with about $188 million in transportation funding.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has projected fuel tax revenues to remain below 2020 levels for the next two years. Total revenue in 2022 is expected to be the lowest since 2013.

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