The recently-enacted federal stimulus package—the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (The Act)—has resulted in the potential for $529 million for state and local transportation projects in Wisconsin. Since The Act aims to begin stimulating the economy immediately, the funds are tied to the ability to identify and get started on qualified state and local transportation projects within very short timelines. On February 19th, Governor Doyle signed Wisconsin Act 2 into law which pre-authorized allocation of $300 million of the $529 million total to begin work on 47 state highway and bridge improvement projects across Wisconsin. In addition, approximately $158 million will be allocated for local road and bridge projects, with approximately $38 million allocated to local governments in the Milwaukee urban area, $9.7 million to local governments in the Madison urban area and $109 million to local governments throughout the rest of the state. Contracts for the state highway and bridge projects will begin to be let in April of this year according to the Wisconsin Office of Recovery and Reinvestment.
The Act designates the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) to assist local governments in identifying eligible projects and applying for federal stimulus funds. Stimulus funds not obligated or used by the deadlines set by The Act can be redistributed to other states. Accordingly, WisDOT Secretary Frank J. Busalacchi has established the following timeline for local government project applications:
- March 2, 2009: Application materials became available on the WisDOT’s website at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/localgov ;
- April 1, 2009: Deadline for submission of applications;
- May 1, 2009: Deadline for completed plans, specifications and estimates for projects that can be ready for bidding by June or July of 2009;
- December 1, 2009: Deadline for plans, specifications and estimates for all other projects to be bid in February or March 2010, and constructed during the 2010 construction season.
The Act generally imposes the same eligibility and project requirements as for other federally-funded projects administered by the WisDOT. For example, only certain types of construction costs and related project activities will be eligible for funding. In addition, there are a number of federal requirements that will have to be met during the course of the project (i.e., reporting, competitive bidding, prevailing wage, etc.). The Act also sets special economic stimulus-driven project selection criteria which will afford preferences to projects meeting some or all of the following criteria:
- Three-year completion (projected completion by February 17, 2012);
- Economically distressed areas;
- Expeditious project delivery (projects/activities that can be started and completed expeditiously including a goal of obligating at least 50% of the funds not later than June 17, 2009); and
- Maximizing job creation and economic benefit.
The $529 million in stimulus funds allocated for Wisconsin state and local transportation projects is likely to result in increased opportunities for Wisconsin road, bridge and other transportation contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. All involved in projects funded in any way by The Act should be familiar with the eligibility and project requirements of federally-funded transportation projects and additional requirements of The Act. Additionally, contractors and local governments need to be ready to take all steps necessary to meet the very short deadlines set by The Act and the WisDOT.
This client alert is one of a series designed to provide summaries of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("The Act") and information and guidance regarding opportunities and relief made available through The Act. All of The Act client alerts are available on Michael Best's Stimulus and Economic Recovery Team publications page. For additional information on this topic, please feel free to contact one of the authors of this alert, or your Michael Best attorney.
If you are interested in learning about other provisions included in The Act, the Michael Best Stimulus and Economic Recovery Team is prepared to assist you in understanding the implications and in developing and implementing a strategy to secure the benefits of this unprecedented legislation. Specifically, we will assist you to identify opportunities, prepare appropriate proposals and make targeted contacts to secure funds. We will also work with you to ensure that your applications are tailored to meet your needs and that your funded projects proceed in compliance with award requirements and applicable laws.