Cullen: I-90/39 project on track
JANESVILLE A state lawmaker who represents Rock County said he has been assured that the planned Interstate 90/39 expansion project will go on as scheduled, at least through the middle of 2015.
Reports surfaced last week that the state Department of Transportation had requested a two-year delay in the project, which will widen the Interstate from two lanes in each direction to three lanes in each direction from the Illinois state line to the Beltline in Madison.
A portion of the route, primarily through Janesville, has been planned for widening from two lanes in each direction to four. Construction has been set to start in 2015 with an expected completion date of 2021.
State Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, said he heard the reports on the delay, became concerned and approached transportation officials for an explanation.
He said he was assured the 45-mile project would continue on its established timeline based on funding projections for the 2013-15 budget, which Gov. Scott Walker likely will unveil in February.
"I was told that there have been no changes in the timeline for the expansion project," Cullen said. "As of right now, the department plans to shift resources internally in order to address funding concerns but will continue to operate on a plan that leads to completion of the Interstate expansion as previously projected."
Cullen said reports of a two-year delay likely were "extrapolated" from funding concerns the transportation department has in the next budget.
A Walker spokesman said last week that the state's transportation fund was raided in the past, resulting in shortfalls that the transportation department is now facing.
Cullen said that while transportation officials told him the project would stay on track through the next budget, the timeline could change if funding reductions are not restored in the 2015-17 state budget.
Cullen said that budget could be even more significant, as that's likely when the project will require much of its funding.
He said he would continue to monitor and support the expansion project, which has been projected to cost more than $1 billion.
Proponents have said a widened Interstate in Rock and Dane counties would alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety and support economic development.
"The impact a delay would have on the local economy and transportation infrastructure would be detrimental to our district, and I am hopeful that the project can continue on its current timeline," Cullen said.