Roads, bridges in Dane County to get overhaul with federal infrastructure funding

MIDDLETON, Wis. — An array of Dane County roads and bridges could see accelerated upgrades due to the recently-signed $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill.

Overall, the state’s top transportation official said the legislation will increase federal funding coming into Wisconsin over the next five years by about 25%.

That includes a bridge listed by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association as one of the top ten most traveled structurally deficient bridges in Wisconsin. Short-term repairs to address that were completed this summer on the Century Avenue bridge near the Pheasant Branch Conservancy trail, officials said, but the federal funds will mean accelerating a project to replace the bridge while putting in a trailhead as well as bike and walking paths below it.

“We want to have a bike underpass so that the people don’t have to cross this very busy road,” Middleton Mayor Gurdip Brar said. He’s excited about the funds, he noted. “There are so many different projects where we could be using this money.”

That includes fixing $36 million in flood damage in Middleton, which Brar said experienced the most damage this summer countywide.

Elsewhere in the county, Dane County’s director of Highway and Transportation Jerry Mandli says a number of county roads are slated for resurfacing that can be accelerated thanks to the federal funds. That includes stretches of County CC (Ash Street to County Highway D), County Highway CV (Government Td to USH 51), and County Highway P (Cty PD to Cty S). Some of those projects, as well as the Century Avenue bridge replacement in Middleton, are in partnership with local municipalities.

“It’s a mix of urban and rural projects,” Mandli explained. “It’s kind of exciting for us because it just helps get more done.”

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The funding will accelerate some projects, but also help free up funding for other projects, he explained.

“Probably 90 to 95% of the growth in Wisconsin has happened in Dane County over the last ten years,” he said. “That trend is continuing, so every little bit helps from the federal government.”

County and municipal governments don’t know yet how much they will receive as part of the funding coming to Wisconsin. Craig Thompson, secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, says most of the funding will come first into the DOT and then as much as half of it will be disbursed from there to local governments.

According to White House estimates, Wisconsin will receive $5.2 billion for highways and $225 million for bridge replacement over the next five years. There’s a separate pot of money for bridges that Wisconsin can also compete for funds for, Thompson said.

“This is really getting into our state highways and our two-lane highways, through our rehabilitation program and improving the condition of our current roads,” Thompson noted. “There will also be more money for transit systems, they’ll be money for electric vehicle charging infrastructure,  and for passenger rail. There’s a lot of funds coming for transportation in a lot of different ways.”