Farmers, loggers, and towns urged to work together on road improvement grants

Wisconsin’s local governments are encouraged to apply for one-time road improvement grants.

The Agricultural Road Improvement Program (ARIP) has money to repair and upgrade local roads that impede business because of frequent weight limits.

Jason Mugnaini with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau says farmers and loggers should encourage their towns to fill out the simple grant application. “With grants provided through this program, local governments will have the means to undertake the crucial repairs and reconstruction projects, reducing transportation costs and promoting the overall resilience of Wisconsin’s food supply chain.”

And he says farmers need to help their towns apply. “Farmers will need to fill out an application, the ARIP Farmer Support Form, so that their local government officials will have the necessary economic data necessary to apply for these grants.

Jerry Derr is Chair in the Town of Bristol in Dodge County and the current President of the Wisconsin Towns Association.  He says Wisconsin has fallen behind on the maintenance of its farm and forest-to-market system. “This is a start. When I talked to Senator (Howard) Marklein a year ago, I said this is only 150 million dollars, but it is 150 million dollars and we have to start someplace.”

Deputy Transportation Secretary Joel Nilsestuen says they had two goals for the ARIP program. “One, we want to be easy for local governments to apply for this funding, and secondly, we wanted it to be effective at improving that first mile that so many of our products travel on in their journey to get to the market.”

Nilsestuen says fixing that first or last mile in the supply chain is vital. “We need to be able to move full truckloads and deteriorated roads reduce the ability to receive large shipments, they result in detours and workarounds that drive up the cost of products and make us less competitive.”

Nilsestuen says the application process is open now and they look forward to issuing 50 million dollars in road improvement grants in round one, followed by another 100 million in grants later this year.

Mugnaini says the grants will help local governments have the means to undertake crucial repairs and reconstruction projects, reducing transportation costs and promoting the overall resilience of the food supply chain.

Nilsestuen says since 2019, the Legislature and the administration have worked together to improve 7,424 miles of roads and 1,780 bridges in Wisconsin.

Along with Wisconsin Farm Bureau and the Department of Transportation the Wisconsin Towns Association, the Wisconsin County Highway Association, the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, several commodity groups, and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.

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