By State Representative Dora Drake
Milwaukee is a city of champions, smarts, creativity, grit, and Midwest hospitality. But we also have lead pipes, potholes, reckless driving, and the list goes on. Many of you wonder when we are getting our piece of the pie? In our city, we know that safe and reliable infrastructure is a critical component to healthy communities and a strong economy. In 2018, Wisconsin’s infrastructure was in bad shape after years of being defunded and deprioritized. By failing to support our infrastructure, lives are at risk, and there is loss of economic opportunities, which impacts the overall health of our city. That’s why Gov. Evers has and continues to work to fulfill his promise to fix our roads, and ensuring Wisconsin’s infrastructure is built for the 21st century.
Since taking office, Gov. Evers has invested in improving our roads, affordable broadband access, prioritized clean drinking water, and provided support to public transportation systems. As a result, after years of neglect, Wisconsin’s infrastructure is growing because Gov. Evers invested the resources our communities deserve.
But what does this mean for Milwaukee?
First, it means resources for clean drinking water. In his first term, Gov. Evers twice introduced legislation that would provide funding to ensure clean drinking water and state support for PFAS contamination – which was opposed or ignored by Republicans in the legislature, both times. But it would be remiss not to address the lead pipes in our city. The issue of removing lead pipes is not new, but it’s finally being addressed thanks to a strong federal-state partnership. President Biden’s infrastructure bill, with the assistance of Gov. Evers, is investing $850 million in Wisconsin to help eliminate the lead service lines in Milwaukee and deliver clean drinking water across the state.
Second, it means funding and resources for public safety. Gov. Evers is helping to prevent reckless driving in Milwaukee as part of a $50 million statewide investment to help improve public safety. Gov. Evers recognizes public safety is a collective effort with local and state leaders. The allocated funds will go towards local public safety agencies, enabling them to have the resources necessary to combat issues such as reckless driving while simultaneously investing in preventive crime strategies.
Third, Gov. Evers is fixing our roads. Since 2019, Gov. Evers has approved over $160 million to provide transportation aid for local governments. Across the state, construction workers are hard at work improving our roads and bridges. During Gov. Evers’ first term, more than 1,700 miles of highways and nearly 1,300 bridges have been fixed — that’s enough highway to drive from Milwaukee to Atlanta and back, and still have road leftover. These improved highways are powering our state and keeping folks safe.
In the latest bipartisan budget, Gov. Evers directed more than $100 million to local road improvement. From county roads to the street outside your grocery store, Gov. Evers is working every day to make sure roads are safe and giving local counties and municipalities the tools they’ve desperately needed for a decade. In addition, Gov. Evers is making sure our construction projects are moving forward on-time and on-budget. In 2020, Gov. Evers kept all 365 road improvement projects moving forward on-time — which kept workers on the job and protected taxpayers from unnecessary costs.
Gov. Evers believes that strong public transportation networks help power our communities. Better roads mean safer communities for our kids and new opportunities for economic growth. Better roads mean Wisconsinites have to spend less money on car repairs and are able to keep more of their hardearned paychecks. Better roads mean more bus service and public transportation so that folks can get around town easily.
So, the question remains if we are getting our piece of the pie? Thanks to Gov. Evers, we have, due to his accomplishments and investments in our city. But there is still work to be done and Gov. Evers will continue to invest resources in the best interests of Wisconsinites and ensure Wisconsin’s infrastructure is built for the 21st century.