Budget cuts push 23 four-lane project back

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

Those waiting for the expansion of State 23 to four lanes from Plymouth to Fond du Lac will have to wait three more years.

The project, scheduled to begin in 2015, has been pushed back to 2018 as a result of budget cuts to the state transportation fund approved by the Legislature earlier this year.

“Highway 23 is part of the major projects program statewide,” Al Rommel, project development manager for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation regional office in Green Bay, explained.

“There have been cost increases in that program and some of them had to be rescheduled to fit into the budget,” Rommel said.

The department had to adjust many of its project schedules after the Legislature cut funding for highways and other department projects by $59.5 million in the state budget to deal with a revenue shortfall.

That is due, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, to falling gas tax revenues.

“We had to fit a number of projects that are in process into the available funds,” Rommel said.

Despite the delay, the DOT is going ahead with a public information meeting on the project scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac.

The meeting will include refined design concepts for intersections, overpasses and interchanges, as well as displays showing project impacts to parks and recreations areas, farmland, residences and businesses.

The department will proceed with necessary real estate acquisitions for the project next year, Rommel said.

Construction, once it begins, is expected to take three years to complete.

Rommel said the first phase would be from Plymouth west to the Sheboygan-Fond du Lac county line. The second year would see construction from Division Road to Taft Road in Fond du Lac County, with the final phase in the third year from Taft Road to U.S. 51 in Fond du Lac.

If the project gets underway in 2018, it would be completed in 2020.

The expansion of State 23 to four lanes from Plymouth to Fond du Lac was first enumerated as part of the state budget process, putting it on the priority list for construction, in 1999.

For more information:

www.dot.wi.gov/projects/neregion/23/ index.htm

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