News Briefs

Building gas pipeline could create 300 jobs

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District wants to spend $17 million to build a 17-mile pipeline to transport methane gas from a Muskego landfill to its Jones Island Treatment Plant.

The district plans to buy methane from Veolia Environmental Services’ Emerald Park Landfill and build a 12-inch diameter pipe to carry it Jones Island, where the gas would be burned instead of natural gas at the MMSD facility that creates the fertilizer Milorganite. The project also would involve $5 million of work outfitting the Milorganite furnaces to burn methane. After the pipeline and furnace work, the district would spend $58 million installing five new turbines at Jones Island that would burn natural gas and methane.

MMSD Executive Director Kevin Shafer said the project could create 250 to 300 construction jobs.

If the district can secure federal stimulus money for the project, construction work could begin before the end of the year, said Mark Kaminski, MMSD acting controller.

The district estimates the money it will save by substituting methane for natural gas will pay for the cost of construction within 10 or 11 years, Kaminski said. The savings would be translated into an estimated $113 million in savings to MMSD ratepayers over 20 years.

Metrodome officials say New Vikings stadium would create jobs

St. Paul, MN (AP) — Time is running out for the Minnesota Vikings to get a deal on a new stadium, and it couldn’t have come at a worse moment as state lawmakers grapple with a $4.8 billion budget deficit.

But the Vikings aren’t giving up in their quest for a public-private partnership, and neither is the commission that oversees the Metrodome. Rather than straight-up asking for public money, they’re touting the new jobs and tax revenue a new stadium could bring.

On Monday, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission told members of a House committee that building a new stadium on the Metrodome site would create 8,000 construction jobs and help state and local governments bring in $32 million a year in tax revenue.

The figures were based on a report the commission asked an outside group to conduct to show the economic benefits of building the stadium. During a presentation before the House Local Government Division, Metrodome officials used the report to argue that not building a stadium would be a missed opportunity.

Without a stadium deal, it’s possible the Vikings would have to leave Minnesota after the team’s lease at the Metrodome is up after the 2011 season, commission Chairman Roy Terwilliger said.

Busy Madison highway sees lane reduction in spring and fall

Madison (AP) — One of the busiest stretches of highway in Dane County is reduced from six lanes to four.

Construction workers are replacing pavement and installing median safety walls on a 3.7-mile stretch of Interstate 39/90/94 from the Dane County line north into Columbia County.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation warns motorists should expect delays during peak travel hours.

Two lanes of traffic in both directions will be open at all time during construction, which will be completed over several months in the spring and fall.

WisDOT decided to divide the work from now until May 22 and again from Sept. 9 until Nov. 20 so the area wouldn’t be under construction when tourists go “up north” for the summer.

Madison to buy 18 more hybrid buses with stimulus money

Madison (AP) — Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said the city will use $9.5 million in federal stimulus money to buy more diesel-electric hybrid buses.

Cieslewicz said the city plans to buy 18 more such buses. It bought its first five hybrid buses in 2007.

Each hybrid bus costs $500,000, or $180,000 more than a regular bus.

But Cieslewicz said the hybrids will replace existing buses and help reduce emissions because they use 30 percent less diesel fuel than regular buses. He says that will help Dane County lower its level of air pollution.

Building in Lego land remains strong despite market slowdown

Copenhagen (AP) — Danish toy maker Lego on Monday said profits rose 32 percent on strong sales in 2008 despite a slowdown in the wider toy industry.

Net profit for 2008 was $232 million.

Sales of Lego plastic building blocks rose 19 percent the previous year.

Lego said it saw strong sales in its City, Star Wars and Indiana Jones product lines, even though the global toy market declined because of the economic downturn.

The Billund, Denmark-based company said it expects moderate sales growth in 2009 despite the recession.

U.K. home builder Redrow posts six-month loss of nearly $50 million

London (AP) — Homebuilder Redrow PLC said Tuesday it lost $48.3 million in the six months ending Dec. 31 as sales fell by half amid Britain’s housing market slump.

Revenue was down 58 percent.

Sales reservations were down 49 percent to 853, and the number of homes completed fell 51 percent to 1,042. The average selling price was down 14 percent, the company said.

During all of 2008, the company reduced its payroll by 43 percent to 740 employees, including 350 people who were laid off when Redrow closed two operating companies.

Paint-maker Akzo Nobel posts loss in fourth quarter as home sales slow

Amsterdam (AP) — Akzo Nobel NV, the world’s largest maker of paints, reported a $1.93 billion loss for the fourth quarter, due mostly to write-downs on the value of a British company it bought last year which was hit hard by the global economic downturn.

Operating profit fell 21 percent, while sales were down 2.7 percent.

Akzo plans to cut 3,500 jobs by 2011, representing around 12 percent of its work force.

It said Tuesday it has so far carried out 1,660 of those cuts.

Akzo’s decorative paint business, which sells paint for the home and features brands such as Dulux, Glidden, Flexa and Sikkens, showed a 41 percent decline in operating profit.

The housing slump which hurts paint sales and began in the U.S. and spread to Britain and continental Europe has now spread further, Akzo Nobel said.

London Olympic organizers to build pedestrian, cycling infrastructure

London (AP) — London organizers will spend $16.6 million on walking and cycling paths for the 2012 Summer Games.

The Olympic Delivery Authority said Monday the investment will enable 385,000 spectators to “ride or stride” to the games.

The ODA plans to create two walking and cycling paths and improve six others. The new cycling paths will stretch from Finsbury Park to Victoria Park, where 5,000 new bike spaces will be provided, and from Epping Forest and the Wanstead Flats to the Olympic Park in Stratford.

ODA chairman John Armitt said the goal is for all spectators to get to the games by walking, cycling or using public transit. His group estimates that 10,000 spectators will walk to the Olympic Park and river zone venues on peak days, along with 4,400 who will cycle.

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