Tri-County Freeway Project’s Future

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Highway 441 bridge in 2014_-1782881070759326873

OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis (WFRV) The massive reconstruction of the Tri-County Freeway in the Fox Valley is entering its second year. It’s a $475 million project that communities in the Fox Cities lobbied hard to land. Now area leaders want to make sure funding isn’t cut.

Along WIS 441 orange barrels are everywhere and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson wants to make sure they stay right where they are.

“Residents in Outagamie County, Winnebago County and the Fox Valley have been waiting a long time for this project to start,” said Nelson. “Only makes sense to see it through to completion without delay.”

Yet a possible delay is something he fears as lawmakers in Madison look for a way to trim Gov. Walker’s proposed $1.3 billion in bonding for road projects in the next state budget. A figure that reportedly now – could be slashed by $800 million.

“The likelihood is dependent on the reduction in the level of bonding – you may see some delays on projects,” said Senator Roger Roth (R-Appleton).

But Roth says he is doing everything he can to convince members of the budget committee – that funding needs to remain for the Tri-County expansion. It will add a second bridge across Little Lake Butte des Morts and redesigns the I-41/WIS 441 interchange.

“This interchange is important to the Fox Valley and Northeast Wisconsin,”said Roth. “I’m advocating with all my senators on Joint Finance that we can’t have a delay in this project here.”

“It’s important for economic development and commerce throughout the state and the region,” said Nelson.

WisDOT spokesperson Peg Schmitt told Local 5 “Until there is a final budget, the department will not be able to provide information on how funding levels may impact specific projects.”

But Roth and Nelson both say they’ll continue to lobby decision makers to keep funding in place.

“It’s absolutely important this project stay on course and we see it through to completion,” said Nelson.

Both men agree delaying the five-year project would only add even more costs to construction. The budget committee meets again next week.

Roth is pushing a plan that would spread the cuts around the entire state. 

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