ROADS/BRIDGES: Wis. looks to funnel $670 million into roads projects

Investment in transportation infrastructure will tax citizens to their own benefit

News December 03, 2014
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A Wisconsin state transportation panel this week approved major highway projects in the southeastern region of the state that will see a combined investment of more than a half-billion dollars. The announcement comes with support from Gov. Scott Walker.
 
Despite the looming funding dry-up and the state’s need for imminent road fund resuscitation, the governor, in a statement released earlier this week, exuded confidence in the panel’s decision. “The major highway projects being recommended for construction have undergone years of careful analysis, require significant upgrades to address aging infrastructure, traffic congestion and safety concerns, and hold tremendous potential to generate economic activity,” Walker said
 
Walker chairs the 15-member Transportation Projects Commission, and this follow-through in project planning is seen as a victory for the governor’s office, which in conjunction with this decision cancelled a further $170 million in ancillary projects in order to focus funds.
 
The lion’s share of the cost of the new projects, approx. $448 million, would go toward a 14-mile section of I-43 in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties between Silver Spring Drive and Hwy 60, a stretch that connects the cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay and carries as many as 84,000 vehicles per day. The project would rebuild the corridor with three lanes in each direction, along with the replacement of several outdated bridges and ramps. It remains to be approved by Gov. Walker and lawmakers in the next state budget session, a process seen as all but assured.
 
Also recommended is a $129 million reconstruction of a 7.5-mile stretch of I-94 between Hwy 12 and Hwy 65 in St. Croix County, which withstands 46,400 vehicles per day and has crash rates exceeding the state average for comparable roads. A third lane would go in, as well. Like the I-43 work, it is pending budget approval.
 
The panel gave immediate approval to a $93 million, 4.4-mile segment of Hwy 50 between I-94 and 43rd Ave. The project would add a third lane and replace outmoded bridges on the highway, with the aim of reducing crash rates and increasing overall traffic safety.

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