Some day in the future, Minnesotans may have to pay a fee to get into Wisconsin.
A new study by the Wisconsin DOT weighed the pros and cons of putting toll booths on major interstates like Interstate 90, Interstate 94 and Interstate 39.
The study found that adding tolls could help Wisconsin raise billions of dollars over time, though it would be expensive to install initially – anywhere from $350 to $400 million. And it would require federal approval.
The DOT said it was directed by Gov. Scott Walker and the state legislature to conduct the study as part of the 2015-17 state budget, and that the department is neither for or against tolling.
What would it be like?
If you've ever taken a road trip to Chicago, you're probably familiar with tollways – slowing down and scrounging for the right amount of change, anywhere from a couple bucks to $20.
But the DOT study focused only on tolls that would be payed electronically, using transponders linked to a driver's account (like MnPASS) or by photographing license plates and sending vehicle owners bills in the mail.
Rates would be comparable to other states like Illinois that use tolling, which the study says average between 4 and 12 cents per mile. The Pioneer Press crunched those numbers, and found it could cost you as little as $5.16 or as much as $15.48 to drive from Madison to La Crosse.
Depending on the chosen toll rate, Wisconsin could earn up to $40 billion in 30 years, the study says.
This could come in handy for the state. The study says that under Wisconsin's current transportation funding plan, state roads could get really bad over the next 10 years.
How likely is it to happen?
In order for this to happen, Wisconsin's leaders would have to agree on a toll plan. Plus, it would require changes to both state and federal law, which WPR says could be tricky because Wisconsin recently approved a constitutional amendment that protects the state's transportation fund.
Republicans, who have the majority in the state's assembly, say toll roads should be considered because then they wouldn't have to raise taxes, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. However, Democrats don't seem to be a big fan of tolling, the Journal Sentinel says.
Lawmakers are expected to discuss state transportation funding during the upcoming 2017-18 legislative session, the Star Tribune said.
If the state does decide to install tollways, it could take up to four years to get them up and running, according to the DOT study.