Wisconsin nears boost in road funding

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/21/2014

Certain highway projects in Wisconsin could soon get a increase in spending because of an unexpected surplus in the state transportation fund.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported early this year that the transportation fund would wrap up the budget cycle with an $83 million surplus.

The Joint Finance Committee voted unanimously on Thursday, Feb. 20, to advance a bill that would take advantage of the extra money and increase spending by $43 million this year on 11 projects around the state. The allocation would leave the fund with a $40 million surplus at the end of two years.

Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee, said something needs to be done now to address road damages resulting from the winter season.

“We’re just starting to see the damage that is impacting all the roads in Wisconsin,” Richards testified. “You don’t have to be an expert to know that our roads are in rough shape and they need to be repaired.”

AB704 awaits further consideration on the Senate floor. If approved there, it would head back to the Assembly for final approval before moving to the governor. Assembly lawmakers already voted unanimously in favor of a nearly identical version.

The bill would increase road spending by pushing up the starting dates of road and bridge projects before the current fiscal year ends June 30. The switch would give the state more ability to take on additional projects in the next fiscal year.

Projects that would benefit include maintenance, resurfacing, pavement replacement and bridge rehabilitation in Brown, Calumet, Door, Douglas, Langlade, Lincoln, Monroe, Outagamie, Sauk, Taylor and Walworth counties.

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