Wisconsin Seeking Big Share of Federal Funds to Pay for I-94 South

Wisconsin officials are moving ahead with aggressive plans to upgrade I-94 south of Milwaukee despite uncertainty over a key source of federal funding for the project.

The improvements, including the addition of an extra lane in both directions of the freeway, took on new urgency this year with Foxconn Technology Group’s plans to build a massive electronics plant in the Village of Mount Pleasant, east of the freeway.

“We think that we have a really nice project that fits the requirements of the grant,” said Brett Wallace, director of the southeast region of the state Department of Transportation.

The state is pinning its hopes for the expanded freeway and related work on a $246.2 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that would pay for about half the remaining cost.

But Wisconsin is making a big ask: The state Department of Transportation is seeking one-sixth of $1.5 billion available in the federal government’s grant program, known as the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, or INFRA.

Wallace acknowledged the state is seeking a big share of the money.

But he said the state’s application meets important criteria federal authorities are looking for. A major selling point: the economic benefits of improved traffic flow in and around the Foxconn project and the burgeoning I-94 commercial corridor that includes Amazon and Uline operations in Kenosha County.