State 23 back on track for 2015

Legislators convince state Department of Transportation to rescind delay of four-lane to Fond du Lac project

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) has restored the start date for construction on State 23 to 2015.

The announcement came last week from state Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan; and Rick Gudex, R-Fond du Lac; with Rep. Steve Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake; Dan LeMahieu, R-Cascade; Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac; and Mike Endsley, R-Sheboygan.

After the DOT recently announced plans to delay construction of State 23 between Plymouth and Fond du Lac until 2018, Leibham, Kestell and Endsley met with Secretary Mark Gottlieb to stress the importance of this project and to demand an earlier start date. Each office received dozens of calls and emails from local residents concerned about the continued delay.

“We made it clear to the DOT that a funding delay of State 23 is completely unacceptable,” Leibham, who serves on the Joint Committee on Finance and the Senate Transportation Committee, said in a press release announcing the change. “This is an important highway project that has been long in coming and for safety and efficient travel purposes needs to be completed as soon as possible.”

Leibham and Kestell, as part of a bi-partisan effort, worked to enumerate this project in the budget during the 1999 state budget.

All area legislators expressed support for the restoration of the 2015 date. “The four-lane expansion improvements to State 23 are important to Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties, as well as the rest of the state. We will continue to ensure the proper planning and completion of this important road expansion project to address both safety and economic concerns,” the legislators said.

In response to concerns expressed by area legislators, DOT informed them that construction will begin in 2015 as previously scheduled. This eliminates the three-year delay in the start of the project that was shown in the recent Transportation Projects Commission (TPC) semiannual report.

The DOT will schedule State 23 for substantial completion in fiscal year 2018. This would be a delay of only one year from the previous scheduled completion of 2017. Pending availability of funds either from project savings or increased appropriations, the DOT would advance the completion to 2017.

The revised schedule is subject to resolution of pending federal litigation and receipt of a record of decision from the Federal Highway Administration early in 2014. It also assumes no reduction in funding in the major highway program in the 2016-17 or 2018-19 state budgets.

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