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Rock Co. leaders push for interstate expansion project

Forward Janesville wants to make sure funding available for project

JANESVILLE, Wis. - As Gov. Scott Walker outlines his spending agenda for the next biennial budget, there are questions about whether funding will be available for expanding Interstate 39/90 in the future.

The project would make the interstate wider in both directions from the state line to the Beltline in Madison, but some are concerned the next state budget may not be big enough to accommodate the more than $700 million project.

An upgrade to I-39/90 is scheduled to begin this spring. An estimated 70,000 vehicles use the stretch of freeway every day.

"I'll be in with the rush hour and whatever else is out there, and it's rough. It gets a little congested, too," said Michael Anderson, a Turtle Lake resident.

"What you get is you get a bottleneck when you come into Wisconsin and cross our border; that's important from a congestion standpoint and from a perception standpoint, as well. You might as well have a sign that says 'here is where the modern infrastructure ends' when you cross the border, and we want to change that," said Dan Cunningham, vice president of Forward Janesville.

Forward Janesville works to promote economic development in the area. Cunningham said the expansion project has been Forward Janesville's top economic development priority for several years.

The group's focus now is making sure road work funding is available from 2015 and beyond, when the major expenses are scheduled to come.

"We're going to be leading a delegation up to Madison in a couple weeks to talk about transportation and why this is important and why we've got to keep pushing this forward," Cunningham said.

Cunningham said they'll make suggestions to lawmakers to secure construction funding.

"Get ready to talk about gas taxes, user fees, all that sort of stuff, because we've got to find another way to fund transportation in Wisconsin," Cunningham said.

Work is scheduled to begin on the Racine Street interchange in Janesville in the spring.

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