I-90/39 expansion lives ... for now

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Saturday, March 12, 2011
— If Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill passes as introduced, construction of an additional lane of Interstate 90/39 from Beloit to Madison would start within six years.

But the bill is not likely to go unchanged, meaning a new Interstate interchange at Town Line Road in Rock County will almost certainly be deleted from the proposal Walker unveiled earlier this month, Rep. Amy Loudenbeck said.

Buried on page 902 of Walker's 1,345-page budget bill is the following:

"If the department determines that a business development having a payroll exceeding $10 million in a calendar year is being located within a 3-mile radius of the intersection of I-90 and Town Line Road in Rock County, the department shall construct an interchange off of I-90 to Town Line Road."

Understandably, that clause got the attention of many officials in Rock County who wondered about an apparently top-secret project to bring a new employer to the area.

Loudenbeck was one of those, and she asked the Department of Transportation for an explanation.

Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, said she learned the reference to the new interchange is apparently carry-over legislative language from 1985.

But 26 years later, no one knows whether the Town Line Road referenced in Walker's budget is the Town Line Road north of Janesville or the one south of Janesville. There are, in fact, two so-named roads that intersect the Interstate in Rock County.

The DOT told Loudenbeck that it's highly unlikely the Federal Highway Administration would authorize such an interchange and that the language in Walker's budget bill should be amended or deleted.

"This bill will change, and this is a perfect example of that," said Loudenbeck, a Republican elected in November to represent the 45th Assembly District.

She noted that the budget bill also includes language about various Development Opportunity Zones in several communities, even though Janesville and Kenosha are the only two communities with active opportunity zones.

On the Interstate expansion project, Loudenbeck said she learned that Walker's budget would launch construction within six years. It would involve the removal and reconstruction of the existing freeway lanes and the addition of a third lane in each direction to create a six-lane divided highway.

The 11 interchanges along the 45-mile corridor would be reconstructed to bring them to current design standards.

Last updated: 4:46 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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