New Developments as New Year Dawns, Familiar Challenges Remain

My Perspective, TDA Executive Director Debby Jackson

Happy New Year! Here’s to a productive 2023.

In 2022, we saw the first federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) dollars start to make their way through the system. Beyond formula program funds, Wisconsin has opportunities for increased investment through the measure’s sizeable discretionary grant programs. We have seen activity there, too. Hopefully, grant awards like the ones for the Wisconsin River Bridges and the Port of Green Bay are the first of many.

But as you know, this federal infusion will not resolve Wisconsin’s long-term transportation funding challenges.

The transportation fund’s structural issues of fixed flat fees that don’t grow with the economy and declining gas tax productivity still exist. And the current high inflation and push to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles have only added urgency to these matters. In this upcoming 2023-25 state budget, we must continue to stress the importance of adequate investment to address the backlog of needed maintenance, repairs, and improvements on our aging system. Wisconsin will need to shore up existing revenue streams while we consider and prepare for what comes after the gas tax.

We have made progress, but the job is not done. TDA and partners are working together to deliver this message to lawmakers this year. And with over a quarter of legislators in their first term, we will need all hands on deck.

We also have work to do and relationships to build in DC. Capitol Hill is reopening, and the Fly-in returns this year on March 1-2. The 2023 calendar is challenging, but we didn’t want to wait another year to rebuild this TDA tradition. We hope you will help us by participating or sending someone from your organization. Legislation like the IIJA only happens with consistent outreach in coordination with our national partners.

The transportation community knows how to marshal the troops to get things done, so let's get ready for a busy and fruitful 2023. 

Fly-in Returns in 2023, Registration is Open

Join us on the TDA Fly-in March 1-2, 2023, to rebuild this TDA annual tradition after a three-year break due to COVID.

For the best flight and hotel deals, book your travel today!

Event and registration information is available here.

Thompson Elected AASHTO VP 

The board of directors of the AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) unanimously elected Craig Thompson as its 2022-23 vice president.

A Racine native, Thompson has served as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation since January 2019. In his role at WisDOT, Thompson leads more than 3,200 employees who support all modes of transportation.

Federal Infrastructure News

Biden Signs FY 2023 Omnibus Spending Bill

A few days before the end of 2022, President Biden signed the $1.7 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. This measure, combined with other resources, specifically the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), provides USDOT $144 billion in FY 2023 budget authority.

The act meets IIJA funding levels and provides general fund resources on top of previously authorized levels. Much of this increased funding goes toward earmarks.

All-source highway spending is up $2.3 billion over FY 2022, while mass transit spending is up $710 million and aviation spending $564 million. For more information, view the USDOT FY 2023 funding tables.

The package also includes the Cornyn-Padilla amendment, which gives state and local governments additional flexibility to spend COVID-19 federal relief resources on transportation infrastructure projects. 

FHWA Memo Open to Congressional Review

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently determined that the December 2021 Federal Highway Administration memo seemingly attempting to limit state autonomy in project selection was a rule under the Administrative Procedure Act, which activates the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

USDOT has consistently said the memo directing FHWA employees to encourage state and local highway funding recipients to prioritize certain types of projects was only a low-level guidance document.

The GAO’s determination allows Congress to pursue a resolution of disapproval under the CRA. Senator Capito (R-W. VA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has said she will introduce the resolution "to ensure the IIJA is implemented as written, our states have the flexibility we provided them, and we maximize the investments made in America’s highways, roads, and bridges.”

The resolution would need a simple majority (51+ votes) in the Senate and House before heading to President Biden.  

Wisconsin Transportation News

Blatnik Bridge Not Selected in First Round of Large Bridge Project Grants

Last week, the USDOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the first round of Large Bridge Project grants, a component of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s competitive Bridge Investment Program.


The first round’s largest grant went to Kentucky to rehabilitate and reconfigure the Brent Spence Bridge ($1.385 billion, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet), with the remaining dollars going to:

  • The Golden Gate Bridget ($400 million, Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, CA)
  • The Golden Star Memorial Bridge ($158 million, Connecticut DOT)
  • Four bridges over the Calumet River on the southside of Chicago ($144 million, City of Chicago, IL). 


Not on the list is the $889.5 million requested for the $1.8 billion Blatnik Bridge, connecting Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota, and jointly owned by the two states. As the Blatnik’s earliest construction start is 2026 (as opposed to late 2023 for the Brent Spence Bridge), the Blatnik Bridge may still receive a Large Bridge Project grant in a later funding round. 


Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation officials have narrowed the alternatives to replace the Blatnik Bridge and are assessing the options to determine the preferred alternative. 

I-94 East-West Comment Period Extended Through January 31

Late last year, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced a preferred alternative to reconstruct the I-94 East-West Corridor, a modernized eight-lane corridor with a diverging diamond interchange to replace the current Stadium Interchange.

WisDOT and FHWA are extending the official comment period by two weeks to January 31, 2023.

Stakeholders are encouraged to submit comments through the WisDOT online comment form or via email, mail, or phone to WisDOT Project Manager Josh LeVeque:

  • Wisconsin Department of Transportation – Southeast Region, Attn: Josh LeVeque, 141 NW Barstow, STE 218, PO Box 798, Waukesha, WI 53187-0798
  • (414) 750-1468

TDA Outreach

Inflation Squeezes Transportation Budgets

In articles published in The Municipality and Wisconsin Counties magazines, TDA Executive Director Debby Jackson says the current high inflation is impacting the cost of government services across the board, including transportation.


As Jackson shares, Wisconsin’s multimodal transportation fund is not equipped to deal with average inflation, let alone prices surging at the highest rate in 40 years. She points out that it is crucial policymakers address this issue in the next budget. 


Access the entire issues and read the articles:

·      Wisconsin Counties (December)

·      The Municipality (January)

Association News

Thanks Again, 2022 Organizational Sponsors

The support of our sponsors helps TDA provide valuable, informative programming, both in-person and digitally. If you want to be a 2023 organizational or event sponsor, click here for more information.

RSVP Today for CBG's Winter Conference

The Construction Business Group's Winter Conference is February 9-10, 2023, at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

Invited speakers include Governor Tony Evers, WisDOT Sec. Craig Thompson, WisDOR Sec. Peter Barca, former Green Bay Packer, and current Packer TV Commentator John Kuhn. Click here for the full agenda.

There is no cost to attend this great conference. Please RSVP: Cheryl Louis at or call 608-240-4178.

Hotel reservations can be made here. Please make your hotel reservations ASAP, as the group rate expires on January 9, 2023.

MAASTO Annual Meeting Registration Open

MAASTO Annual Meeting

August 14-16, 2023

The Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee

MAASTO's Annual Meeting is coming to Milwaukee this summer and is an excellent opportunity to network and connect with some of the best and brightest in transportation. Attendees will leave better informed and better prepared to change the future for the people they serve. 

Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) works to foster the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated and balanced transportation system that adequately serves the transportation needs of the ten member states.

Event details and registration information can be found here.

Sponsorship information can be found here.

KL Engineering Announcement

KL Engineering is excited to announce that on January 1, 2023, Jim Dzienkowski, Chad Halverson, and Jesse Schreiner joined Kim Lobdell, Ryan Schanhofer, Scott Cramer, Aaron Steger, Mike Scarmon, and Chris Ehlert as KL Engineering shareholders. Incorporated in 1991 by Kim Lobdell, KL Engineering has 4 Wisconsin-based offices and a team of 85+ members.

Upcoming Industry Events

If you would like TDA to consider including your organization's update or event in an upcoming newsletter, please forward information to Luke Pearson

Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin

10 East Doty Street, Suite 201 | Madison, WI 53703

(608) 256-7044  |

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