MADISON – This morning, the Wisconsin Ag Coalition, local government and timber industry advocates and the Department of Transportation held a press conference to promote the Agricultural Road Improvement Program. The program, created last year in Wisconsin Act 13 and funded as part of the biennial state budget, will provide $150 million to fund projects improving local roads that cause problems for the agriculture industry due to weight postings.
The groups encourage farmers and loggers throughout the state to contact their local governments and ask them to submit applications for the first round of grants. Applications for the first round of grants are now available at DOT’s website. A form to assist farmers and other agribusiness owners to provide local officials with the economic data needed to apply for the grants, is available online at wfbf.com.
The Ag Coalition and local government advocates thank the bill authors, Senators Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), Cory Tomczyk (R-Mosinee) and Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan), and Representatives Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and Nancy VanderMeer (R-Tomah), and bipartisan legislators who lent their support to passage of the program and Governor Tony Evers for signing it into law. They also thanked the Department of Transportation for their extensive collaborative efforts to get the program up and running.
The program is designed to enhance local roads, eliminate posted routes and benefit all rural drivers. It creates a mechanism to repair or replace structures under 20 feet in length which were not eligible for federal revenue for local bridges.
To be eligible for a grant under the program, a route or structure must have been posted for weight for at least one month in the previous year, be maintained by a local government and provide access to agricultural lands or facilities. Local governments can expect to have 90 percent of the cost for these projects funded by state grant dollars.
Priority will be given to projects that provide the greatest benefit to agricultural producers using the following criteria:
- It provides the greatest positive economic impact.
- It provides access to the largest number of farmers or volume of agricultural goods.
- It improves the only practicable access to a farm field or facility.
- It will result in the reduction of cost for farmers due to repeated trips at reduced weight, labor, fuel or mileage/wear on agricultural equipment.