Cuts in state funding for highway maintenance could lead to more potholes, slower snow plowing and layoffs of road maintenance workers next year, according to Milwaukee County officials.
While snow plowing remains the top maintenance priority for the state, the county's $1.2 million cut in 2010 state road aid could force layoffs and cuts in next winter's road clearing, said Jack Takerian, Milwaukee County's interim public works director.
The 9.25% cut left the county with a total of $12.4 million. Other counties in southeast Wisconsin were assigned similar reductions, the result of state budget cuts.
The money will cover plowing for this winter, but could come up short after that, Takerian said. Unless extra cash is found, the county could be forced to lay off as many as 24 of 56 full-time and 28 seasonal workers who work on state highways in mid- or late 2010, he said.
"This is a domino that's going to fall next year," Takerian said.
Fewer workers would mean longer routes for each plow operator and increase the time it takes to clear state roads in Milwaukee County, Takerian said. State roads in the county include I-43, I-94 and many major thoroughfares such as W. Brown Deer Road, Loomis Road, Forest Home Ave., Appleton Ave. and parts of Green Bay Road and Capitol Drive.
County Executive Scott Walker said Friday the county is seeking flexibility from the state to be able to shift funds between winter and summer road maintenance. For example, if this winter turns out to be relatively mild, the county hopes to be able to retain any saving to help get it through the rest of the year, he said.
Yeah, knock it off with the new ramps and widening of lanes. We've been driving for years on them and can deal a little while longer with just two lanes, or a pothole here and there.
It's snow and ice that'll remain treacherous for WI drivers.