Wisconsin on verge of boost in road funding

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, March 20, 2014

A bill on its way to the Wisconsin governor’s desk would provide a boost in spending for certain highway projects through an unexpected surplus in the state transportation fund.

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

The Senate voted unanimously to endorse 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.

AB704 now moves to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk. House lawmakers already approved the bill by unanimous consent.

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 previously testified. “You don’t have to be an expert to know that our roads are in rough shape and they need to be repaired.”

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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