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Budget committee trims funding for road projects instead of raising gas taxes, fees

MADISON (WRN)  Several Milwaukee area freeway projects will be delayed, after state lawmakers made changes to Governor Walker’s budget plan aimed at eliminating a $63 million shortfall in the transportation fund.

The Joint Finance Committee voted unanimously Thursday to delay reconstruction work on a part of Milwaukee’s Zoo Freeway interchange, saving about $33 million. Another interchange on Interstate-94 near the south edge of Milwaukee will be delayed until the 2015 state budget.

Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb says the expected completion dates for the Milwaukee freeway projects would not change, but they would lose most of their cushion for dealing with unexpected problems. About $10 million was dropped from repairs on Milwaukee’s Hoan Bridge, leaving $226 million for that project. Repaving and repairs on other state highways were cut by $12 million. Lawmakers preferred to cut or delay projects instead of raising gas taxes and fees.

The committee also added several local transportation items at the request of individual lawmakers, including directional signs for a shrine in Brown County. In addition, the panel endorsed the idea of allowing golf carts on roads with speed limits of 25 miles an hour or less.

The measures now go to the full Legislature as part of the next state budget.