Wisconsin Delays Work on Major Jobs

Wisconsin transportation officials are pushing back completion dates for five major road projects because the state budget didn’t lay out enough money for them.

📅   Wed October 21, 2015 - Midwest Edition
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The projects will be delayed for at least two years — and possibly longer — if legislators can’t come up with ways to find new revenue going forward, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sept. 20.
The projects will be delayed for at least two years — and possibly longer — if legislators can’t come up with ways to find new revenue going forward, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sept. 20.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) Wisconsin transportation officials are pushing back completion dates for five major road projects because the state budget didn’t lay out enough money for them.

The projects will be delayed for at least two years — and possibly longer — if legislators can’t come up with ways to find new revenue going forward, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sept. 20. The delays will cause the projects’ costs to increase because of inflation, though the state Department of Transportation hasn’t said by how much.

Gov. Scott Walker proposed borrowing a record $1.3 billion for roads in his executive state budget proposal. But his fellow Republicans in the Legislature said that was too much and scaled the borrowing back to $500 million.

The GOP gave DOT the ability to request an additional $350 million from the Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee. The agency hasn’t asked for the additional borrowing authority, and Senate Republicans say they’re reluctant to grant the request if it comes.

The DOT identified the five projects for delays because they weren’t slated to be completed in the 2015-17 biennium, DOT spokeswoman Peg Schmitt said in an email to The Associated Press. She said the agency anticipates asking for some additional borrowing authority “at some point,’’ though she didn’t elaborate.

The delayed projects are:

• A $482 million plan to expand and reconstruct Highway 10/441 in the Fox Valley. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 2019, but now won’t be done until at least 2020.

• A $1.2 billion project to widen Interstate 39/90 between Madison and the Illinois border from four lanes to six. That work’s completion date will be pushed back from 2021 to at least 2023.

• A $251 million project to expand and reconstruct an interchange on Madison’s Beltline. That effort will move back from 2019 to at least 2021.

• A $148 million effort to reconstruct 11 mi. (17.7 km) of Highway 15 near New London. The work was supposed to be done in 2019; the end date will now be pushed off until at least 2021.

• A $151 million project to finish long-running work on Highway 23 between Fond du Lac and Sheboygan. That project is already on hold after DOT agreed to reopen its environmental review of the work in response to a lawsuit by 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin. It was supposed to be done by 2018, but now won’t wrap up until at least 2020.