December 2, 2016

DOT Update

This week, my office was contacted by a number of people concerned about the DOT I-39/90/94 study in Dane and Columbia County. Some of the options the DOT has looked at have caused a lot of concern for those living near Bristol, Sun Prairie, DeForest, and surrounding areas. Sen. Fitzgerald and I have been following this closely and have asked the DOT to hold an additional public informational meeting to allow residents the ability to become more informed about the proposals, and voice their opinions on the matter. It appears the DOT will be attending meetings in the affected areas, however at this time there have been no dates set.

In the meantime, I've included in this update a message I received from the DOT concerning this project. Following the link embedded at the end of the message will take you to the study website where you can sign up to receive updates about this project.

The DOT Southwest Region held two public involvement meetings the week of November 13th, 2016 to provide an update and receive input on the I-39/90/94 study in Dane and Columbia County. A range of seven corridor improvement alternatives to be evaluated in more detail was featured. Essentially this corridor evaluation will determine whether the existing interstate corridor is the appropriate location for improvements, or if an alternate corridor to the east is the best way address the needs identified for I-39/90/94. This was the second round of public meetings held since the study began in 2014.   

The DOT Southwest Region studies team was made aware that a number of legislative contacts by concerned constituents have been made in the two weeks since those meetings. We are providing this update of the study to you and all other legislators with constituents in the study area in case you are also contacted.  

Each of the corridor alternatives identified demonstrate some potential to reduce congestion on I-39/90/94 by drawing traffic from the corridor and/or adding capacity to the existing interstate. It is important to note that improving the existing interstate corridor is one of the alternatives that has the potential to reduce congestion as well, and will also be studied further.   

Further study and public involvement, as necessitated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, will determine the environmental, community and socioeconomic impacts (farmland, residential, wetland, cost, environmental justice, for example) that would result from construction improvements in the existing interstate corridor or in any of the four East Reliever corridors. The data gathered along with input from local municipalities and the public will be used to determine which individual corridor alternative best balances the needs of the corridor while minimizing cost and impacts to the extent practical. This will all be documented in a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) to be completed in 2018. 

Stakeholder and public input provides great value in the NEPA study process. Clearly, most people attending the recent meetings, or providing comments thru email and phone calls, did not favor of any of the East Reliever corridor alternatives. This input will be critical in evaluating the alternatives going forward.  

We have coordinated with representatives of potentially affected municipalities since the study began in an effort to increase awareness and involve all communities and stakeholders, but we recognize these methods may not reach all interested individuals. In the upcoming weeks, we will offer communities near the corridor the opportunity to have the DOT study team attend local municipal meetings. Stakeholder and public outreach will be ongoing through newsletters, e-mail, social media, and website updates. This outreach also includes frequent collaboration with the many local representatives serving on our study committees. More public involvement meetings will be held as well to provide updates and additional opportunities for public input. Our study website, I-39/90/94 Study , will continue to be a good source of study information. The public can contact us by e-mail or phone, and their comments will be included in environmental documentation process.

Once the preferred corridor is identified, a mailing list of all property owners and municipalities along it will be developed for all notifications through the end of the study. The identification of the preferred corridor alternative is tentatively expected in the summer of 2017. If you have any questions or would like a briefing on the I-39/90/94 (Madison Portage) corridor and the next steps in study process, please contact me by phone (608) 246-5444 or by e-mail

Promising Economic News

Wisconsin ranks second among the 25 largest states for small business activity according to The Kauffman Index of Main Street Entrepreneurship. Small business is the backbone of our economy, this news is encouraging to hear as it shows just how far WI has come in the last few years. The reforms we made in Madison have created an environment for businesses of all shapes and sizes to succeed.

These businesses are not just opening and closing abruptly according to the report. More than half of the businesses started in Wisconsin survive their first five years. Starting a business is a challenging task, even more challenging is keeping the doors open for more than five years. This is a very good barometer of how healthy Wisconsin's economy is.

If you have a dream to be your own boss, the Department of Revenue offers several resources for entrepreneurs. Visit their One-Stop Business Portal to start your new Wisconsin business or visit their website to find tax incentives for businesses.

Need a Gift Idea?

People looking for a holiday gift that keeps giving throughout the year can give outdoor enthusiasts access to some of the most scenic areas found in Wisconsin that offer thousands of miles of trails, hundreds of nature hiking opportunities and dozens of beaches, with a 2017 Wisconsin state park admission sticker or state trail pass.

2017 stickers and state trails passes go on sale Dec. 1 at state park facilities and Department of Natural Resources service centers statewide. State park properties will honor 2017 stickers and passes for admission to parks, forests, recreation areas and trails beginning Dec. 1, 2016.

The admission stickers are designed by high school students and the winning design is chosen in a statewide contest.

Annual admission stickers cost $28 for Wisconsin residents or $38 for nonresidents. If there is more than one vehicle registered to the same household, additional state park stickers are available for $15.50 for residents and $20.50 for nonresidents. A senior citizen annual sticker for $13 is available for Wisconsin residents 65 years of age and older. Annual trail passes are $25 for residents and nonresidents.

In addition to park, forest and trail offices and DNR service centers, stickers and trail passes are available over the phone from the DNR call center. Phone customers can call the DNR at 888-936-7463 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. Customers need to order stickers and passes by Monday, Dec. 16 to receive them for the holidays.

The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks also offer online sales of admission stickers and trail passes with a donation to the statewide friends group through the organization's website

2016 Capitol Christmas Tree

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