The Worst Roads in Wisconsin

By the end of 2020, what has been called the bumpiest highway in the state of Wisconsin is scheduled to be rebuilt. An eight-mile stretch of Highway 49 which connects Verona and Belleville has often been referred to as one of the worst roads in Wisconsin. While the road was resurfaced, that resurfacing was intended only to be a temporary fix—even though it cost $3 million to complete. The resurfacing project was actually moved up a year after officials received a flurry of complaints from the residents in the area forced to drive the road, but is still only considered a “stopgap” measure. When asked why the highway was in such bad condition, officials attributed the buckling and deterioration to inclement weather conditions.

Higher Number of Crashes on Bad Roads

In 2020, WisDOT is expected to tear out the entire road and rebuilt it from scratch—a measure which will likely take an entire construction season to complete, but will be “responsive to the growing traffic volumes…” Aside from being a bumpy, annoying road to drive on, crash data shows the 8.2 miles is also one of the most dangerous roads in the state. That data concluded there are 1.7 times as many fatalities on this small stretch of Highway 49 than on other roadways in the state, and on certain sections of the highway, that number rises to as much as 4.6 times as many fatalities. Rebuilding the highway in 2020 is expected to cost more than $11 million, but officials say the road will not require any additional work for at least two decades.

Wisconsin’s Roadways Steadily Worsening

A January 2017 report published in the USA Today network, claims Wisconsin’s 12,000-mile network of highways has steadily worsened over the last dozen years or so. In 2010, about 54 percent of Wisconsin’s highway network received a “good” rating yet by 2015, that number had dropped to 41 percent. Even more alarming, the percentage of highways labeled “poor” or “worse,” has more than doubled—from 7 percent in 2010 to 17.5 percent in 2015. This translates to almost one of every six highways in the state which are in bad condition. Unfortunately, bad roads are not just annoying to those who are forced to drive them—poor roads cause more auto collisions, more vehicle wear, and higher insurance rates.

Further Reading: The Role Alcohol Plays in Fatal Auto Accidents in Wisconsin

Roads in the East Part of the State are Better than Those in the West

The worst roads are in the western portion of Wisconsin, while the eastern half of the state fared a bit better. Officials say this is largely due to the state’s increasing focus on repairing interstates. As an example, Winnebago and Ozaukee counties in the eastern half of the state have the highest rated highways, with more than 90 percent rated as “better than fair.” Only about one-fourth of the western highways in the state are considered “better than fair.”

Wisconsin’s Roads Voted Third Worst in the Nation in 2015

The problem with Wisconsin’s road was detailed in a 2015 USA today article, titled “Wisconsin Roads Third-Worst in Nation.” Apparently, the potholes and other road problems in the state cost drivers almost twice the national average in automobile repairs. These repairs translate to an additional $615 per vehicle in annual tire wear, accelerated deterioration and maintenance. That number across the nation is almost half what Wisconsin residents pay, at $377 per year. Again, the roads in the state appear to have declined rather rapidly over the past decade or so—in 2004, Wisconsin’s roads ranked 22nd in the nation.

State Budget Cuts Culprit in Deterioration of Wisconsin Highways

State budget cuts are the primary culprit in the deterioration of Wisconsin’s highways, however the bad roads are taking their toll on the three industries which fuel Wisconsin’s economy—transportation, farming and manufacturing. Wisconsin has apparently not rebounded from the 2008 recession as quickly as other Midwest states, and many fear that companies which might be considering locating in Wisconsin could choose to locate in a state with better infrastructure. While WisDOT is working to improve the state’s roads, it won’t happen overnight. If a bad Wisconsin road was responsible for your auto accident, it could be beneficial to speak to an experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Contact Our Milwaukee Car Accident Lawyers

Milwaukee Wisconsin Personal Injury Lawyers Aiken & ScopturAt Aiken & Scoptur, S.C., we work tirelessly to help injured Milwaukee car accident victims. We go toe-to-toe with large insurance companies and fight to get them the money they need to fully recover. Call us today!



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