First responders call on lawmakers to improve road conditions

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- First responders gathered at the Capitol Tuesday morning to bring attention to what they are calling poor road conditions throughout the state, which they said can actively affect their response times and Wisconsin drivers.

"Over the last several years, we've noticed that roadways in Wisconsin are deteriorating, making it more difficult for us to do our job," said State Patrol Trooper Brandon Ferrell. "One of the key components to us being able to do our job is to efficiently and quickly get to an emergency scene and render aid when needed. With the conditions on the road, it's making that more difficult, and it's also making more accidents happen due to the road conditions."

Jim Brigham, a Dane County Deputy, also said the roads can affect their vehicles.

"Tires, wheels, suspension components of our vehicles are having to be replaced at greater intervals because of the wear and tear that's created by these poor road conditions," Brigham said.

The first responders said while they know it is not their job to determine policy or resolve the issue, they hope lawmakers can come up with solutions toward fixing the roads.

"We're calling on lawmakers to pave the way to better roads in Wisconsin, improve public safety, and lead us forward as our great state motto says," said Lt. Mike DeGarmo with the Racine Fire Department.

"We need sustainable, long term funding for roads so the safety of the motoring public, and those who respond to the emergencies, can be improved," said Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman.

Gov. Tony Evers has put forward an 8-cent per-gallon gas tax as part of his plan to increase road funding by $608 million over two years. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald last week said the gas tax hike would be rejected.

The Legislature's budget committee planned to vote Thursday on road funding.

Groups represented at the Tuesday news conference were the Wisconsin Troopers' Association, the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, the Badger State Sheriffs' Association and the Wisconsin Professional Police Association.

Read the original version of this article at www.nbc15.com.