Cost overruns plague Wisconsin DOT

News Milwaukee Journal Sentinel February 04, 2005
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Wisconsin's largest highway projects totaled up to $1

Wisconsin's largest highway projects totaled up to $1.36 billion in cost overruns over the past 15 years. The Wisconsin DOT said the total price tag was 70% more than original estimates.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, lawmakers ordered the report on 27 major projects after a 2003 state audit found that seven highway projects were running a combined total of $381 million over original estimates.

With the support of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi, the state legislature squeezed tighter financial controls on road projects. One of the reforms also cracked down on legislators slipping pet projects through the system.

The biggest overruns, according to the Sentinel, were on the U.S. Highway 12 Whitewater Bypass, which is expected to cost $36.7 million--359% more than its original $8 million estimate; and the U.S. Highway 45 portion of the state Highway 110 overhaul. That job was estimated at $42.7 million--242% more than the original $12.5 million projection.

The DOT reported that inflation accounted for $573 million (42%) of the cost overruns on the 27 projects reviewed. Other factors were higher than expected construction and design costs as well as rising real estate costs.

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