Federal Funding Expected to Help Ease Wisconsin’s Road Repair Needs

An influx of pandemic-related federal aid to state and local governments is helping clear a backlog of needed road improvement projects in Wisconsin.

The state Department of Transportation recently announced a COVID-19 relief plan passed by Congress in late 2020 will allow the state to complete 42 highway projects valued at nearly $150 million in the next two years. Most of the 42 projects involve replacing or repairing bridges or resurfacing state highways.

“The funding was able to fill in for the lost revenues we had (in 2020) because of gas tax revenues being lower than usual due to decreased traffic,” said DOT Secretary Craig Thompson. “It allowed us to not only not have to cut back on projects, but to advance 42 projects earlier than was previously anticipated.”

Thompson said the state is still assessing if aid from the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act can be used on road improvements.

“We’re never in a situation where we’re going to feel it’s all fixed, but between the last (state) budget, where we had the biggest increase in transportation in a generation that’s allowed us to stop the decline in conditions, both on our state system and getting the locals more money for their system,” Thompson said.