How the bipartisan infrastructure law impacts Wisconsin

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 7:43 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now law, Wisconsinites may soon start seeing more construction.

That’s because the legislation, commonly referred to as the bipartisan infrastructure bill, spends money on roads, bridges, water infrastructure, transportation, ports, airports, rural broadband and more.

The White House said Wisconsin is set to receive about $5.5 billion in federal funds to fix its roads and bridges over the next five years. The state is also set to receive more than $1.8 billion for other infrastructure projects covered by the legislation.

Ken Mika with the Wisconsin chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) said the investment will make a difference, especially after the group gave the state’s roads a D+ in its 2020 report card.

“This is a great investment for Wisconsin,” he said. “It helps bridge some of the gap, which in the 2020 report card we found that Wisconsin was going to have a $13 billion shortfall over the next 10 years. So while it does not close the entire gap, it is a start to help plug the gap.”

The state still has to decide how to spend the money.

Wisconsin Sen. Tamm Baldwin, a Democrat, supported the legislation, which President Joe Biden signed into law Monday.

She said it differs from normal federal highway legislation, and not just in scope. It also prioritizes projects and communities often overlooked.

“We want to make sure that we are not just looking at interstates and state highways but county trunks,” she said. “And there’s need everywhere and so this is a priority.”

Making these fixes will benefit all of us. The ASCE estimates people pay an average of $3,300 annually in hidden costs for poor infrastructure.

“You will see that money eventually over time build up back into your account because you’re getting better fuel mileage out of your vehicles because there’s less potholes or you’re actually driving at normal speeds and not doing stops and starts. In the combination of removing lead pipes, you’re also upgrading your piping infrastructure so there’s no leaks,” Mika said.

He added the goal is to improve the state’s infrastructure to the point where engineers are planning preventative maintenance instead of necessary repairs.

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