Despite the news this week that Gov. Jim Doyle will convene the Transportation Projects Commission in, this, his final year in office, advocates of Interstate 39/90 expansion may not want to pop the cork just yet.
It was a day many I-39/90 proponents feared may never come, and it marked the first encouraging news on the project in some time. Still, it is far too premature to give the major reconstruction a green light.
Many obstacles remain for the ambitious $1.02 billion project that would expand I-39/90 from four to six lanes and reconstruct 11 interchanges between Madison and Beloit.
As the outgoing governor, Doyle personally suffers no political repercussions, but the impact on the Democratic Party candidates this November is yet to be seen.
The partisan debate over building major projects versus maintaining existing highways goes on, and which side voters sway may ultimately impact who will win the next gubernatorial race.
As a result, even if the I-39/90 project gains approval among the eight projects the TPC will consider this December, the decision will still fall in the State Legislator’s hands at next year’s budget hearings.
If the sizeable project makes it past local lawmakers, the next Wisconsin governor will be responsible for the final signature. This state’s broad veto powers allow the governor to modify any bill by rewriting statements, alter financial appropriations and even strike out entire provisions.
As a result, there is no guarantee the bill will remain intact as it was originally approved. Attempts to override even a partial veto has not been successful in Wisconsin since 1985, so who gets elected may drastically impact just how much –- if any –- state money the I-39/90 project will receive.
Joe Lanane is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter. His original blog on this topic was partially vetoed.