Major Highway Projects Reporting Bill Signed

Changes to state law aimed at improving the way the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) budgets and reports major highway project costs were enacted by Governor Walker.

The legislation was prompted by the findings in a Legislative Audit Bureau audit of the State Highway Program and was introduced by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee which is chaired by Representative Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem Lakes) and Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay). The audit report showed that DOT consistently underestimated the true costs of projects, including disregarding inflationary increases due to delays.

2017 Wisconsin Act 247:

Clarifies that when providing major project cost estimates to the Transportation Projects Commission (TPC), the estimate must include all costs associated with the project, including; design engineering and construction engineering costs; the costs of environmental studies; costs of the project that are paid by another DOT program; the expected date of completion; an estimate of the effects of construction cost inflation; and unexpected costs on the cost of the project.

Requires DOT’s semi-annual status report to the TPC to include the full project cost estimate of each project as of the date of the TPC’s approval of the project. This is in addition to the current required information (for each major highway project, the actual and estimated project costs as of the date of the preparation of the report, itemized by major cost categories, on both a cumulative basis from the project’s inception and on an updated basis for the period since the last six-month report.)

Requires DOT to consider and document the results of the uniform cost benefit analysis (required under current law for proposed engagements involving an estimate expenditure of more than $300,000) before determining whether to undertake a proposed engagement for
engineering, consulting, surveying, or other specialized services.