Highway rating improves with fee
Marathon County’s highway pavement has improved since the county imposed a $25 “wheel tax” on vehicles.
The Marathon County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the vehicle registration fee in December 2106 as a temporary measure and made the tax permanent in August 2017. Since imposition of the fee, the county’s 618 miles of pavement have improved as measured by the state’s Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating (PASER). In 2015, the county highway PASER rating stood at 6.66. After one year of the vehicle registration tax, the PASER rating kicked up to 7.03. By 2018, the PASER rating stood at 7.08.
In the years prior to the wheel tax, the county’s pavement quality was on the decline. In 2007, the county’s PASER rating was 7.03. The rating would incrementally slide annually over the next four years.
The county Infrastructure Committee has as a goal to have its PASER rating stand at 7. This is a “good” rating with pavement needing only routine maintenance, which should include crack filling.
A county PASER report states that the county now has 164 miles of highway at a 7 rating. This compares with it having only 127 miles at that rating back in 2007. Marathon County highway commissioner Jim Griesbach said the $25 vehicle registration fee is providing sufficient resources to keep up with road maintenance.
“Compared to most counties, we are heading in the right direction,” he said.
Griesbach said the county highway maintenance program is doing well although he would like to see the county do more chipsealing.
Last year, the county paused its program because of concerns about the oil used in a chipseal product.
The county “wheel tax” generates approximately $3 million annually for department road repair and maintenance.