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Interstate highway expansion approved


UNDATED (WSAU) A long-proposed expansion of the Interstate south of Madison took a big step forward yesterday. The state Transportation Projects Commission recommended adding a third lane in each direction on I-39-90 from the capital to the Illinois line. It was one of four projects endorsed by the commission – the first such approvals in eight years.

The next governor and Legislature will now be asked to approve the new projects – which also include improvements on the Highway 10-441 freeway in the Appleton area, Highway 15 in Outagamie County, and Highway 38 in Milwaukee and Racine counties. The total price-tag is just over $1.3-billion. The Madison area Interstate expansion would cost $715-million.

Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville has said the project is badly needed to boost the economy and to relieve heavy traffic from Illinois, where the “I” has had six lanes for years. Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend voted against the project, saying the state should make an expansion of Interstate-43 a priority near Milwaukee. But that’s not an issue for the state commission to address, since large projects in that area come from a different road fund. Governor Jim Doyle, who chairs the commission, said there was not enough money to consider new highway plans during his eight years in office. He also said a lot of roads had to be built which were approved before he took office in 2003.