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White House: Infrastructure bill would provide billions for Wisconsin roads, bridges
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INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN | WISCONSIN’S SHARE

White House: Infrastructure bill would provide billions for Wisconsin roads, bridges

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Portage construction shifts to phase 2

Construction on U.S. Highway 51/Wisconsin Street is continuing with the second phase of the project.

Wisconsin would take in $5.2 billion in federal highway repair funds, along with millions for bridges, transportation systems, electric vehicles and high-speed internet projects, under the bipartisan infrastructure bill before Congress, according to the White House.

The infrastructure bill, which could come to a vote in the U.S. Senate as soon as this weekend, represents a major component of President Joe Biden’s campaign platform and would pump $550 billion in new federal funding over five years into infrastructure projects across the country.

Pfizer says new data suggests a third dose of its COVID vaccine can strongly increase protection against the delta variant.

According to a state-by-state breakdown of the proposal, Wisconsin is expected to receive $5.2 billion for highway programs and another $225 million for bridge replacement and repair projects. The state would also be able to apply for $12.5 billion in federal funds targeted for economically significant bridges.

The bill also would provide the state with $595 million over a five-year period to improve public transportation across Wisconsin. Another portion of the bill includes $79 million over the next five years to support the expansion of Wisconsin’s electric vehicle charging network.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2020 Wisconsin report card gave the state a C grade on overall infrastructure, due in large part to the state’s aging system.

“Much of Wisconsin’s infrastructure requires capacity or maintenance upgrades or is reaching the end of its expected lifespan,” according to ASCE. “The energy grid, transportation systems, sewers and drinking water systems of decades ago need upgrading to better prepare for security threats, larger storm events, increased use of renewable fuels and a changing population.”

Wisconsin’s lowest grades were for roads and transit systems, both of which received a D+ grade, according to the report.

Internet access

Another component of the infrastructure bill would allocate $100 million to broadband expansion to provide high-speed internet to about 318,000 Wisconsin residents who lack connection. An estimated 1.25 million people in Wisconsin would also be eligible for benefits to help low-income families afford internet access.

According to a 2021 report from the Federal Communications Commission, roughly 394,900 people in Wisconsin lack access to quality broadband service, though a recent private study estimated the actual number could be higher than 670,000.

In rural areas, Wisconsin ranks 36th in the nation for broadband access, with 21.8% being unserved or underserved.

State officials have previously said it could cost up to $1.4 billion to deliver internet speeds of 25/3 megabits per second to every home and business in Wisconsin.

State-specific data on other components in the infrastructure bill such as passenger and freight rail, drinking water infrastructure and airports will be released in the coming days and weeks, according to the administration.

Delegation divided

Despite receiving bipartisan support, Wisconsin’s congressional leaders remain divided on Biden’s infrastructure bill.

“After years of partisan politics consuming Washington, it is past time to work together and deliver results for people,” U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, wrote in a July op-ed in the Wisconsin State Journal. “We now have an opportunity to do that, and I am going to work to get the job done for Wisconsin.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, has remained ardently opposed to the package, which he’s repeatedly criticized due to the more than $1 trillion price tag.

“We can’t spend money we don’t have. Period,” Johnson said in a Tuesday statement. “Just look at what is happening with inflation. We were promised this infrastructure bill was fully paid for, and now we see that it’s not. This was nothing more than a bait and switch.”

The Senate voted July 30 to advance the infrastructure package, with Baldwin in support and Johnson opposed. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he hopes to reach a final vote before the chamber departs Washington, D.C., for its monthlong August recess on Monday.

The infrastructure package advanced in the House in early July by a 221-201 vote, with the state’s three Democratic representatives in support and all five Republicans opposed.

Year in review: The top Madison-area stories of 2020

It started out well enough. The Badgers were making a late-in-coming run at the Final Four. Hometown insurance behemoth American Family announced it was boosting its starting minimum wage to $20 an hour. Madison East Siders welcomed a new Pinney branch library.

The first two and a half months of the year feel like a different era, when news of a strange new virus infecting people in China was safely tucked away in the back pages of the newspaper and the heart-breaking images of a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of a 46-year-old Black man had yet to go viral.

Then came March and successive waves of closures, cancellations, lockdowns, furloughs, layoffs, infections and deaths. If the subsequent uprisings over the killing of George Floyd weren't enough to remind America that it has plenty of work to do to overcome racism, the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha tragically emphasized the point. And a divisive presidential election carried the tone of the year at the end.

While it may not be a year to look back on with particular fondness, 2020 no doubt is one to remember. Here's a look back at some of the top stories in the Madison area as they occurred.

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It marked the fourth consecutive loss in the Rose Bowl for UW, and the first time since 2013 that the program lost its final two games of the year.

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Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said Sunday the victim who officers found in an apartment at 1905 McKenna Blvd. shortly after 2:30 p.m. Saturday was a 20-year-old African American male.

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With the Green Bay defense failing to lay a hand on 49ers running back Raheem Mostert for much of the first half and the Aaron Rodgers-led offense committing two turnovers and failing to convert a third down yet again during a scoreless first 30 minutes, the Packers dug themselves a 27-0 halftime deficit on their way to a demoralizing 37-20 loss.

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Gutierrez, superintendent of the school district in Seguin, Texas, was announced Friday as the Madison School Board's pick to lead the district.

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The person returned to Dane County Regional Airport after a trip to Beijing Jan. 30 and went directly to UW Hospital's emergency room, officials said.

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This weekend's performances at the Alliant Energy Center will be the last with elephants in Dane County as a contract between the circus and the venue expires. 

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Tony Evers said he vetoed the legislation, which uses surplus revenue, because it doesn't invest in the state's schools. 

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Despite no Wisconsin cheeses finishing in the final top three, state producers dominated the competition, earning 45 gold medals out of 132 categories.

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This decision is unprecedented for Wisconsin's largest university and taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

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The closure order, to take effect no later than 5 p.m. on March 18, affects nearly 1 million Wisconsin children in grades K-12 in public and private schools.

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One was a man in his 50s from Fond du Lac County; the other was a man in his 90s from Ozaukee County.

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David A. Kahl, 53, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

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Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order represents a shift from the governor's position last week, when he said he did not plan on issuing such an order.

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Most voting locations saw few lines and smooth operations. But other places, notably Milwaukee, experienced significant delays, chaos and conditions that made it impossible for some voters to cast a ballot.

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Jill Karofsky's win over Dan Kelly cuts the court's conservative majority to 4-3, giving liberals a chance to take back control in 2023.

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The U.S. Air Force announced the final selection of the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing, capping more than three years of study and deep community division over the planes, which come with the promise of jobs and new construction but also noise and pollution.

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While applauded as a good first step, Democratic members, as well as public safety and health officials, have criticized the bill for not allocating more state funding to respond to the pandemic.

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For 30 years, "Ms. Milele" was the publisher of UMOJA magazine and a prominent leader in Madison's black community. She was "short in stature but mighty in force." 

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Free community testing for COVID-19 started at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison on Monday morning.

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Gov. Tony Evers and legislative Republicans will need to work quickly to come up with a replacement plan.

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The Vilas Zoo, Goodman Pool, beaches and movie theaters are among the places not opening yet.

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There were signs early Sunday that the violence was spreading into other parts of the city.

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"It’s clear they have important process issues to work out," the candidate said.

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School Board President Gloria Reyes said the decision to pull police from Madison's four main high schools is effective immediately. 

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The Madison School Board chose Carlton Jenkins, a superintendent of a suburban Twin Cities school district, over another finalist for the job. He starts Aug. 4.

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As a Dane County public health order requiring face coverings in all indoor spaces outside the home took effect Monday, businesses offered mixed views on mandates, though for many retailers it was business as (the new) usual.

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There was no update on the second victim from the shooting at Schroeder Road and Chapel Hill Road Saturday night. 

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Travis M. Christianson, 44, is tentatively charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

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Republican President Donald Trump also has caused controversy for saying he might deliver acceptance speech at White House.

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The girl was in a car that was struck by gunfire late Tuesday morning on East Washington Avenue.

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The conference decided — after meetings between presidents and athletic directors, and outcry from players, coaches, politicians and fans — to cancel the fall sports season and will attempt to move football to the spring semester.

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"The video that came out of Kenosha is absolutely horrific. I don’t understand how people can watch it and not be here," one Madison protester said. 

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The fifth-seeded Heat finished off an upset of the NBA’s best regular-season team Tuesday, topping the Milwaukee Bucks 103-94 in Game 5 of their East semifinal series — while Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league’s reigning MVP, couldn’t play because of a sprained right ankle.

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UW-Madison is pausing in-person instruction for at least two weeks and quarantining more than 2,200 students living in two dorms.

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Police are not recommending charges against Althea Bernstein, saying there is a difference between someone trying to deceive law enforcement and not being able to corroborate a report of a crime.

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The alternate care facility at State Fair Park in West Allis may begin taking patients Thursday.

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A small crowd Downtown Saturday morning before the race was called turned into hundreds of people honking horns, cheering and waving signs after Biden was declared the winner, while some Trump supporters turned out in protest.

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"We understand the eyes of the world will be on these Wisconsin counties over the next few weeks,"  Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe said.

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St. Mary's and Meriter expect to get vaccine soon.

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The flurry of activity caps off a tumultuous post-election saga in Wisconsin that has now concluded.

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A look back at the year 2020 through the lens of Wisconsin State Journal photographers John Hart, Amber Arnold and Steve Apps

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