For Immediate Release: October 20, 2015
Contact: State Senator Janis Ringhand, (608) 266-2253
SENATOR JANIS RINGHAND FORMALLY REQUESTS THE RELEASE OF TRANSPORTATION FUNDING
Swift Action by Joint Committee on Finance Would Significantly Reduce or Eliminate Delays
(Madison) State Senator Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) has formally requested that the Joint Committee on Finance approve a request by the Department of Transportation to release contingent bonding to reduce or eliminate the delay of the I-39/90 corridor and other road projects in southern Wisconsin.
“The DOT request for additional bonding for these projects is good news, but we need to work toward a long-term solution to meet our transportation needs,” Senator Ringhand said. “In the long-term, we need to come together to find the funding to keep our roads and highways safe for everyone.”
The legislature approved $350 million in contingent bonding for road repairs in the state budget that was approved in July. The DOT is requesting $200 million in contingent bonding today and expects to request the remaining $150 million in contingent bonding next year.
According to the DOT request, $125 million of the additional bonding would be used to reduce the delays for five projects in the Major Highway Development Program, including I-39/90, to one year. The remaining $75 million would be targeted for the State Highway Rehabilitation Program.
The DOT request also states that if the remaining $150 million in contingent bonding is approved for fiscal year 2017, and if future budgets set funding at moderately higher levels, there may be no delays to the project schedules prior to the cuts enacted in the state budget.
Senator Ringhand acknowledged that the professionals at DOT deserve credit for advocating ways to reduce the delays in highway improvements throughout the state.
“Secretary Gottlieb brought forth a comprehensive and long-term funding solution for our state highway programs. Unfortunately, his plan was rejected outright by the Governor and legislative Republicans without debate.” Senator Ringhand added. “While this request is a step in the right direction, we need to agree on a long-term solution to this crisis and stop kicking this can down the road.”
October 20, 2015
Senator Alberta Darling, Co-Chair Representative John Nygren, Co-Chair
Joint Committee on Finance Joint Committee on Finance
Room 317 East State Capitol Room 309 East State Capitol
Madison, WI 53707 Madison, WI 53708
Dear Senator Darling and Representative Nygren,
I strongly support the Joint Committee on Finance releasing the contingent bonding requested by the Department of Transportation. The Senate District I represent has been disproportionally impacted by the cuts in funding to our state’s Major Highway Development Program and State Highway Rehabilitation Program. The I-39/90 project is currently facing a two year delay without the release of additional bonding. An additional 42 state highway projects are facing delays due to cuts in the Rehabilitation Program.
The I-39/90 project has long been a priority for southern Wisconsin. The reconstruction and expansion of the 45-mile stretch of I-39/90 between Madison and the Illinois state line will make needed safety improvements, aid state tourism and expand economic development along the corridor, which is one of the busiest stretches of highway in the state. According to DOT traffic counts about 70,000 vehicles a day use the corridor. Nearly 35 percent of the traffic count comes from heavy trucks.
According to the Department of Transportation’s request, if the Joint Committee on Finance approves the request, delays to the I-39/90 project could be reduced by a year and “if the remaining $150 million in contingent bonding is approved for FY 17, and if future program levels are set moderately higher than the FY 15 base amounts, there may be no delays to the project schedules established prior to Act 55.”
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this project to the people who drive on I-39/90 everyday, as well as the businesses who depend on this highway to get their products to market. The safety improvements and associated economic development opportunities are critical for this area of the state.
Releasing this bonding is the first step in getting our transportation program back on track. I look forward to continue to work with you to identify a long-term solution in order to secure adequate investments in our state and local transportation programs.
Again, I urge you to approve DOT’s request and thank you for your consideration.