Mayor Barrett pushes for state aid for battered roads

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The roads in and around the City of Milwaukee have taken a beating during this bitterly cold winter. There are potholes and heaving pavement just about everywhere. Now, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is making an appeal to fix them. Barrett, along with three other suburban mayors are calling on the state to send more money their way.

The Department of Transportation has about $43 million in unexpected revenue. On Tuesday, February 11th, the mayors of Milwaukee, Cudahy, Greendale and St. Francis asked the state to set aside some of that money for local road repairs.

"It doesn't do us any good to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars on highway projects if people can't get to the highways without going through pothole after pothole after pothole," Mayor Barrett said.

Mayor Barrett says the city has already received nearly 1,000 pothole complaints in 2014. There were about 670 at this time last year.

"Every dollar we spend on fixing the pothole, that's a dollar that is taken away from actually resurfacing or reconstructing the street and that's exactly the point here," Milwaukee Commissioner of Public Works Ghassan Korban said.

Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday the state has already committed extra help for local roads.

"Well in the budget, we included a four-percent increase for local road aid so the city of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, and other local communities across the state are getting more," Gov. Walker said.

The Mayor's Office says that won't do any good this winter, since those funds won't be available until 2015.

They mayors are also asking the state to redistribute funding under the local roads improvement program.

Right now, 43% of that money goes toward County highways, 28.5% for towns and 28.5% for cities and villages.

"We live within tight budgets, but we can't keep the bubblegum and band-aid approach to our local infrastructure. It just isn't gonna work," Cudahy Mayor John Hohenfeldt said.

Korban says the city is bracing for things to get even worse in the spring when the roads thaw out. He says that will only make it harder to afford resurfacing projects that are needed on major roads, including stretches of Humboldt and Lisbon Avenues.