Evers administration touts road investments as Wisconsin’s construction season begins - TAI News
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Mazomanie Downtown Historic District on Octover 7, 2012. (Kenneth C. Zirkel / Wikimedia Commons)

The familiar sights and sounds of construction season — orange cones, closed lanes, jackhammers and the back-up alarms of forklifts and excavators — have returned to Wisconsin, and to kick it off, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers went on his annual pothole repair tour to tout his recent road investments.

Over the past year, Evers has increased funding for road repairs around the state, including adding $100 million to the Local Roads Improvement Program, which helps communities pay to fix their roads. Evers also allocated $150 million to create a new Agricultural Road Improvement Program under the LRIP, which will specifically target roads used often by farmers and their equipment that would typically not receive other state aid for repairs.

“When I visit communities across our state, it’s clear that every pothole filled, street resurfaced, or bridge reconstructed makes Wisconsinites’ lives a little better and our roads a whole lot safer,” Evers said in a statement.

Since Evers took office in 2019, more than 7,400 miles of roads and nearly 1,780 bridges have been repaired and improved, according to his office.

In the latest round of funding through the LRIP, the state awarded more than $190 million to fund over a thousand projects.

The village of Mazomanie received $400,000 from the LRIP to reconstruct Hudson Street, one of its main thoroughfares, and an additional $29,500 for resurfacing of other roads. 

About three blocks of Hudson Street will be redone, and in addition to fixing the road,  with the help of a loan from the state’s Clean Water Fund Program, the village will replace water utilities that were prone to freezing during the winters. The village also hopes to use funding from the LRIP in the coming years to reconstruct another five blocks of Hudson Street, according to administrator Peter Huebner.

These latest improvements come a few years after Mazomanie finished a long-awaited project to revamp the portion of U.S. Highway 14 that runs through the village’s downtown in 2021.

The small town of about 1,750 people had been trying to get the project off the ground since as early as 2009, Huebner said, but it was low on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s list of priorities because the agency said there wasn’t enough traffic running through the corridor.

The village kept pushing and asking for updated traffic studies as the road continued to deteriorate, Huebner said. The stormwater utilities beneath the road also started to worsen, reaching a point at which it would have become unusable, which would have been expensive for the village to repair without the support from the state.

Safety along the highway worsened, too, as traffic increased. During the mornings and evenings it was hard to cross the highway for both cars and pedestrians. More pedestrians were getting injured, and one was hit and killed while trying to cross the road, Huebner said.

With these issues, the state finally prioritized the project and construction was completed in 2021. In addition to fixing the utilities and pavement, the project also added sidewalks along each side of the highway, a traffic light, two-lane left-turn lanes and LED street lighting.

Since the work has been completed, Huebner said, more people are out walking their dogs, and there’s better access to the community’s businesses and Bluff Park, which sits right off the highway.

The improvements made to the highway not only increased safety for drivers and pedestrians, but have also given the small town’s downtown a face-lift. The town has partnered with other communities along the highway, such as Cross Plains and Black Earth, as a gateway to the state’s scenic Driftless Region. The revamping has made the corridor brighter and friendlier, Huebner said, making it easier for people to travel from business to business.

“It makes us more accessible for people to come because it’s easier to travel both through town and to get to places in town,” he said.

Being in the northwest corner of Dane County, the village sometimes feels forgotten about, Huebner said, but the support and investment from the state to fix the roads feels like a “justification that we do exist.”

“It was nice to [hear] that, hey, we’re still here, that people know about us, and they’re willing to help us to modernize and make our community a lot safer,” he said.

To find more information on construction projects happening around the state this season, visit projects.511wi.gov.

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