State Highway Commission won’t Advance New Major Projects

A long-dormant commission charged with planning major road construction opted not to advance any projects after a five-year hiatus that ended Friday.

The TPC typically advances projects from the planning stage to the state Legislature for enumeration. But the Legislature has the power to enumerate projects, too. Just one major highway project has moved forward without TPC approval, an expansion of Interstate 41 between Appleton and DePere that the Legislature approved in the latest biennial budget. WisDOT has yet to begin an environmental review of the project, agency officials said Friday.

The group moved to remove three major highway reconstructions from the planning phase. They include: a 15-mile expansion of U.S. Highway 14 from Janesville to I-43, the reconstruction of U.S. Highway 12 at the Fort Atkinson bypass and a rebuild of Highway 8 from Wisconsin Highway 35 to U.S. Highway 53.

Joe Nestler, administrator of WisDOT’s Division of Transportation Investment Management, said these projects likely would have been removed from the planning phase had TPC met in recent years.

“We had already put that ice internally knowing that wasn’t going to result in a recommendation,” Nestler said. “We would have done this sooner had we met.”

WisDOT, however, will continue to consider a number of other projects, and may consider them at future TPC meetings. Projects that remain in the majors program include an expansion of U.S. Highway 12 between Elkhorn and Whitewater, an overhaul of Interstate 94 between Madison and the Wisconsin Dells and an expansion of I-94 East-West in Milwaukee.