Gravel recently spread on Linn Street in West Baraboo has some drivers grumbling, either about rocks in their tires or inadequate state road funding.
After filling cracks in the street with liquid asphalt, the Sauk County Highway Department poured gravel over the top to give vehicles traction. “The stones are there just for friction,” said Highway Commissioner Pat Gavinski. “It’s not ideal. We have to put more down than sticks.”
Baraboo resident Joshua Wise drives Linn Street daily, and sees the gravel as a hazard. “When a rock cracks my windshield, I know who to send the bill to,” he said.
Gavinski said road crews use gravel in winter because it’s readily available, durable and impervious to cold weather. The Highway Department sought to fill the street’s numerous cracks before winter sets in. The county maintains the portion of the street — which doubles as Highway 33 — in West Baraboo for the state.
“The state has used it on numerous state highways, and it lasts longer,” Gavinski said.
Local leaders want the state to rebuild the road. The Department of Transportation is studying the section of Highway 33 from Portage to Baraboo, but it isn’t in line for reconstruction funding yet. Last year, Baraboo spent $500,000 to repave the road’s outer lanes within the city limits because state help is so far off. The city plans to borrow $1.8 million for road repairs next year, and will hold a referendum in April asking voters’ permission to enact a $20 vehicle registration fee to help pay for street work.
Another frustrated Baraboo driver, Sara Strozinsky, said she’s irked when she sees state highway money go to interstate reconstruction in Milwaukee while local roads fall into disrepair. “All our city and county streets are a mess,” she said. “You can either levy a new tax or spend your money on your beat-up suspension.”
Municipalities are seeing state road money diminish. Sauk County received nearly $1.48 million in 2011, but only $1.3 million last year. Baraboo got received $767,000 in general transportation aid in 2011, but only $577,000 last year. West Baraboo received $121,000 in 2011, but only $105,000 last year.