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The Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced it is making $75 million available through its Multimodal Local Supplement grant program, which is designed to address critical transportation needs.
The program makes funds available to local and tribal government agencies. These funds are meant to be directed to multimodal projects, including roads, bridges, harbors, transit, bicycle accommodations and railroads. The MLS program uses a cost-share system; the program offers up to 90% of the total costs, with local governments covering a minimum of 10%.
“The objective of this program is to provide local officials the flexibility and funding they need to address the transportation projects that are most needed in their communities,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a press release issued Sept. 5. “The MLS program gives counties, towns, villages and cities the opportunity to apply to fund multimodal projects that will provide significant economic impacts for their community.”
WisDOT announced the criteria for the one-time grant program designed to address critical transportation needs throughout Wisconsin. The $75 million Multimodal Local Supplement grant program is available to local and tribal governments. https://t.co/POYRXiWwvX pic.twitter.com/Vg9CuTJNrE— Wisconsin DOT (@WisconsinDOT) September 6, 2019
Transportation officials already have identified one project — repairs for the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Kaukauna — that will receive MLS funding. The structure is a vertical lift bridge, a type of movable structure in which the span rises to allow ships to pass under it. The lift mechanism hasn’t worked in years. Kaukauna is 25 miles southwest of Green Bay.
The U.S. Coast Guard ordered the lift bridge to be fully operational by May 2021. Once the bridge is functioning properly, commercial vessels, motorboats and canoes will have access to the Fox River lock system, which connects Lake Winnebago to Green Bay.
“Together with our local government partners and legislators, we’ve determined that an ideal project for MLS funding is to make repairs to the lift bridge in Kaukauna,” said Craig Thompson, WisDOT’s secretary-designee.
The program will provide 80%, or $1.76 million, of the $2.2 million needed for the Veterans Memorial Bridge’s repairs. The remaining recipients will be announced early next year.
Local government offices may apply for design and construction or construction-only projects. The minimum project cost for applications representing counties, cities and villages is $250,000. Approved projects will need to be completed in six years.
The competitive selection process will include local government committees and stakeholder input. According to WisDOT, projects will earn a higher rating if they demonstrate economic impact, provide greater connectivity and are more cost-effective than other options.
“Healthy town economies require contemporary infrastructure,” said Mike Koles, executive director of the Wisconsin Towns Association. “The local supplement program will provide another step toward building the roads and bridges necessary for improved public safety and enhanced private-sector success.”
The MLS program is similar to WisDOT’s Local Roads Improvement Program but is available to a broader range of project types. The improvement program helps local government agencies repair deteriorating highways and city streets.
WisDOT will be accepting applications for the MLS program through Dec. 6. The agency plans to hold three webinars in late September and early October to offer an overview of the program and answer constituents’ questions.
“The MLS grant program is designed to address a range of possible projects and puts the decision-making in the hands of the locals,” Thompson said.