MOUNT PLEASANT — The year 2019 might be known as the Year of the Orange Barrel as the Wisconsin Department of Transportation prepares to ramp up work on the roads in and around the Foxconn Technology Group development in Mount Pleasant.
“It is going to be a big year for roadway construction,” said Brett Wallace, Foxconn project manager for WisDOT.
Between work done on Interstate 94 in Racine County and the local roads and state highways in the Foxconn area, roughly $225 million has been spend as of the end of January.
And there still is roughly $155.2 million worth of work remaining on local roads and $167.1 million worth of work remaining on Interstate 94.
While it may seem like Racine County and the roads within the Foxconn area are getting most of WisDOT’s attention, Wallace said no other department projects were negatively affected.
“It didn’t delay any other work statewide,” Wallace said.
Wallace said the state had saved roughly $100 million from past projects that were underbid.
For example: If a WisDOT budgeted $10 million for a project and the bid came in at $9 million, the state saved $1 million.
Those savings, Wallace said, along with $66 million in federal highway redistribution funds helped keep other projects around the state to continue progressing.
“Yes we’re taking on this work (in the Foxconn area),” Wallace said. “That money could’ve been used for other projects ... but it has not bumped other projects.”
However breaking down what funds from the federal, state and local government go to which specific project in the Foxconn area can be confusing.
Local roads and state highways
According to an open records request, the state, along with Mount Pleasant and Racine County, have spent $106.9 million on state highways such as Highway H, KR, 11 and the construction of Wisconn Valley Way. Those funds spent also include work done on Braun Road and 90th Street.
So far seven construction contracts have been awarded along with construction oversight contracts.
When the local road projects are completed, it’s estimated the state would have spent more than $221 million, and Racine County and Mount Pleasant would have spent $31.5 million. There is $9.6 million of federal funding used on these projects for a total of $262.1 million.
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According to the agreement signed by the state, Racine County and Mount Pleasant, the county will pay the state $11.5 million once the tax incremental district, which is within the Foxconn property, is closed.
As of the end of January, there is roughly $155.2 million worth of work estimated left on the local projects, of which $146.9 million is state funded.
“It’s like nothing we’ve taken on in the past,” Wallace said of all the work WisDOT is doing in the county.
Although most of the work centers on the roads, there is $82.8 million in payments for wetland mitigation and $24.1 million for design resources.
Work on I-94
Since the mid-2000s, WisDOT has been working on making I-94 four lanes on each the north and south bound lanes.
Over the years the biennial budget has chipped away at the work on I-94, which Wallace calls “a bonafide federal mega-project” but Foxconn has moved it up on the priority list.
“Clearly the development helped accelerate getting that back on schedule,” Wallace said. “And it needed to get done.”
the I-94 project is on pace to be completed 11 years ahead of schedule.
The state has already spent $116.6 million on I-94, just in Racine County, and when the project is completed WisDOT will have spent $283.7 million on the project.
In 2018, the state did receive $160 million from the federal government in the form of an INFRA (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America) grant. It was the second highest grant the federal government gave for transportation project, and the highest amount the state has ever received.
“At the end of 2019 there’s going to be a big relief with the freeway, quite a bit of development road work done, but there is carryover work into 2020 and then (Highway) KR really all the way into 2022,” Wallace said.
“It’s like nothing we’ve taken on in the past.” Brett Wallace, WisDOT’s Foxconn project manager