State lawmakers ponder idea of toll roads in Wisconsin

MADISON (WITI) -- Wisconsin appears to be one step closer to joining neighboring states like Illinois and Minnesota -- states that have toll roads.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican from Burlington, says drivers who use Wisconsin's interstates may some day help "pitch in" for the maintenance of the roads.

"We know that the transportation fund over the long haul has a serious deficit. of both political parties say it's time for tolls," said Vos. "I would much rather have people pay for a system that they use."

The Assembly's Democratic leader agrees.

"It seems like a very efficient way -- everybody pays their fair share -- whether you're an electric car, a gas operated car, a truck or a bus -- it seems to me that the only way we're going to have efficient, strong infrastructure in Wisconsin is if the users pay for it," said Rep. Peter Barca (D).

Further complicating the issue is the gas tax -- which is the biggest chunk of the transportation fund. It's producing less revenue as cars become more fuel-efficient.

"Over time, if we don't find a different way to fund it, if we don't either raise gas taxes, if we don't increase registration for drivers licenses, which I'd prefer not to do, I certainly think that tolling is the best option out there," said Vos.

There are still hurdles on the highway to toll roads in Wisconsin. State officials say it could be years before we see the first tool booth pop up. At this point, lawmakers aren't even discussing possible locations and toll rates.

The federal government must approve a switch to toll roads.