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Wisconsin Law Could Delay Major Highway Projects

A plan to save money on highway megaprojects is likely to backfire, experts warn.
January 5, 2019, 9am PST | Elana Eden
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Henryk Sadura

Amid much controversy out of the Wisconsin Capitol this month, one wonky transportation bill has escaped the limelight: a requirement that highway megaprojects be funded with a minimum of 70 percent federal dollars. 

Federal funding, of course, comes with federal requirements—specifically, the requirement to pay contractors the federal prevailing wage. The new law's goal, according to transportation experts interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio, is "to concentrate federal funds into fewer highway projects," thereby limiting the total number of state projects that would have to pay a higher wage. Governor Walker signed the bill along with several others passed in the recent lame-duck session.

But multiple state offices, including the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, have concluded that it's not clear that avoiding prevailing wage would actually save the state money on transportation projects. Moreover, advocates say the requirement could end up delaying major projects and repairs that aren't able to achieve majority federal funding. Read or listen to the full story at Urban Milwaukee.

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Published on Thursday, December 6, 2018 in Urban Milwaukee
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