New Funding Available for Wisconsin Transportation Projects

Wisconsin’s transportation system is getting a welcome funding boost: $75 million for qualifying projects, with as little as 10% local funding. Here’s what you need to know about the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Multimodal Local Supplement (MLS) program for transportation improvements.

Who is Eligible to Apply for MLS Funds?

Local units of government with taxing authority to guarantee availability of local matching funds are invited to apply for funding for new projects. Applications will be considered from counties, cities, villages, towns, and Wisconsin’s 11 federally recognized tribal governments.

The program offers a total of $26,669,333 for county projects; $19,039,500 for city and village projects; and $29,291,167 for town projects. Applications from recognized tribal governments will be assigned to one of the three categories based on how the proposed project links to or affects other infrastructure.

What Projects Will be Considered for MLS Funding?

Funding is available for new projects statewide. The funds cannot be added to projects with already committed funding. The funds also cannot be used for operation and maintenance projects. Projects that are awarded funds must be completed in a six-year time frame.

The proposed project also has to fit into one of six categories.

  1. Replacement, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or widening of an existing road or construction of a new roadway.
  2. Replacement, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or widening of an existing bridge or construction of a new bridge.
  3. Transit vehicle purchase, transit equipment, and transit facility construction projects.
  4. Bicycle and pedestrian on-road and off-road trail facilities, rails-to-trails projects, and historic transportation facilities.
  5. Rail line rehabilitation, passenger rail projects, and intermodal freight facilities.
  6. Harbor dredging, port infrastructure expansion, and repair of dock walls.

To qualify for consideration, project construction or project design and construction costs have to be at least $250,000 for counties, cities, and villages, and at least $50,000 for towns. The maximum MLS project award amount is $3.5 million. The program pays up to 90% of total eligible costs.

How Will Projects be Selected for MLS Funding?

This is a competitive application process. A committee will award points to applications based on the potential economic impact of the project, how it connects to or accommodates other modes of transportation, and overall cost effectiveness. (See chart for more detail.)

Evaluation Criteria

Road Projects

    How the project will enhance safety
    How the project enhances serviceability

Bridge Projects

    How the project will enhance safety
    How the project enhances serviceability

Transit Projects

    How the project will increase ridership
    How the project will help manage assets

Harbor Projects

    How the project increases capacity
    How the project improves existing infrastructure

Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects

    How the project increases safety
    How the project encourages increased use
    How the project enhances accessibility

Railroad Projects

    How the project will help manage assets
    How the project will increase capacity
    How the project will enhance safety
How Does a Qualifying Agency Apply for MLS Funding?

Application forms and guidelines on how to fill out the forms are available at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website. The site also lists contact information for department representatives who are managing the program. Questions and answers from recent webinars will be posted on the site as well.

But don’t delay: Applications must be received by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation by 5 p.m. on Dec. 6. Awards will be announced in early 2020.

Need some help with the application? Contact Ayres Associates.

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