A bill that would set aside $5 million a year from 2015 to 2017 to strengthen the state’s bridges received a hearing Tuesday before the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Assembly Bill 41 would let local governments apply to receive part of the $5 million set aside each year. The money, which is geared toward improving bridges so they can better convey freight trucks, would be awarded by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
State Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, the author of SB 31, the Senate version of the same bill, said a priority would be placed on ensuring the money goes to bridges that convey trucks used in the manufacturing, agriculture and logging industries.
Petrowski said many truck drivers are forced to go miles out of their way to avoid bridges that are incapable of carrying heavy freight loads. He said more than 650 local bridges now have weight limits that are not sound enough to safely convey trucks weighing as much as 80,000 pounds, which is a standard in the shipping industry.
SB 31 was approved by the Senate Committee on Transportation, Public Safety, and Veterans and Military Affairs on Jan. 22. For AB 41 or SB 31 to become law, both must be approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker.