Janesville66.5°

Local projects get federal boost

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JAMES P. LEUTE
March 4, 2009
— Nearly $3 million in improvements to the pothole-ridden Highway 11 between Janesville and Footville are included in the first wave of infrastructure spending of the federal stimulus bill.

Gov. Jim Doyle said Tuesday that Wisconsin has gotten the go ahead from the federal government to spend $300 million of the $529 million the state expects to receive for road and bridge projects.


The first infusion of stimulus dollars will put hundreds of state road builders to work in May and June. By Doyle's estimate, the infusion of federal cash will create or save about 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin.


Tuesday's announcement includes the Highway 11 stretch and 46 other projects around the states. Contracts will be awarded in April with work done this summer.


Rock County officials also are hopeful they'll get the go-ahead for a couple of bridge projects on county roads.


Ben Coopman, Rock County's director of public works, said the first wave of funding has only been allocated so far for state and federal highway projects. It is yet to be determined for county and township projects, he said.


Other projects in Rock and its neighboring counties include about $1 million for bridge painting on Interstate 90/39 between Madison and Janesville and $7 million in surface rehabilitation and bridge work on Highway 12 in Walworth County.


The Highway 11 project in Rock County includes pavement replacement and overlay.


About half of the state's allocation for roadwork from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be spent on the reconstruction of Interstate 94 south of Milwaukee, with an expansion of the freeway west of Madison also in line for a significant federal boost.


The infrastructure work around the state represents a mix of bridge reconstruction, highway expansion, roadway resurfacing and pavement replacement. The infusion of federal cash moves those projects from wish list to shovel-ready.


Tom Fisher, president and business manager of the Wisconsin Laborer's District Council, said that without the boost provided by the stimulus money, hundreds of his members would collect unemployment instead of paychecks this summer.


He put unemployment among construction workers tied to the road building at more than 15 percent, double the statewide figure among all job categories.


"The sooner we can get people back to work, the sooner we can get our economy back on track," Fisher said. "If they're sitting home, they're not buying cars, and they're not paying taxes."


Doyle said another wave of road projects—about $229 million worth—will be announced later.


Material from Gazette wire services was used in this story

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