October 14, 2023
By Lane Kimble
MADISON, Wis. — A celebration of tremendous accomplishments, a look at challenges that lie ahead, and the confidence in a united association to persevere in the long run.
All of those themes played out Thursday during a well attended WTBA Fall Meeting at Monona Terrace in Madison.
“I choose to be an optimist because of this Association,” WTBA Executive Director Steve Baas told the crowd. “You take impassable wilderness, in some cases, and you turn it into smooth roads. You take something that isn’t there and create something that is.”
“The strength of this association is its collective unity. Despite the individual disagreements we might have, the territorial and parochial differences between different industry sectors: when we need to, we pull together.”
The meeting came at a busy time for the industry, as contractors and companies work to get projects buttoned up before the winter weather invades, something WTBA President JR Ramthun noted in his opening remarks.
About 150 people attended the all-day conference, surpassing 2022’s registrations.
Gov. Tony Evers welcomed attendees to Madison and applauded them for the litany of projects either already underway or about to begin in the years to come.
“These (projects) are all great news, but it wouldn’t be possible without the folks in this room that are here today,” Evers said. “You’re our partners in this… But we’ve got a lot more work to do.”
The conference included a deeper explanation of WisDOT’s projected lets and quantities for FY2024, an exclusive look at TRIP’s new report on the status of Wisconsin’s roads, a political update from WTBA lobbyist Eric Petersen, and a question and answer session with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu.
WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompsonencouraged the crowd to reflect on the accomplishments they helped provide for the state’s transportation infrastructure in 2023.
“We have made tremendous, tremendous progress, in terms of reinvigorating — both with the Legislature, with the public — the investment and the interest in transportation,” Thompson said.