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Baldwin Gets Job Done on Transportation Measure to Support Wisconsin’s Economy

Highway 41 Bill Will Help Drive Wisconsin Economy Forward

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin announced today that a transportation bill she introduced is included in the Omnibus Appropriations legislation moving through Congress this week.  Baldwin’s measure, which has broad support from Wisconsin’s business and agriculture community, will allow trucks currently operating on Highway 41 in Wisconsin to continue to use the highway once it is converted to a federal Interstate. The House is expected to vote on the appropriations bill on Thursday and the Senate will vote on the bill on Friday.

“Our Wisconsin businesses and employers need a quality transportation system to get their goods to market. This is a great step in continuing to build a strong ‘Made in Wisconsin’ economy,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this important bill passed and I especially want to thank Representatives Petri and Ribble for their hard work in the House of Representatives. This effort will help drive Wisconsin’s economy forward."

“This is great news for future economic growth in Wisconsin and we are especially grateful for Senator Baldwin getting the job done,” said President and CEO of the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce John Casper. “The Highway 41 corridor is home to fifty percent of all international companies operating in Wisconsin and we are hopeful that this federal interstate designation will help create more economic growth for the Fox Valley and our state.”

“The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation applauds Senator Baldwin for her efforts to insure that current truck weight limits allowed on U.S. Highway 41 will be grandfathered in when Highway 41 is designated as an Interstate,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Jim Holte. “As an $88 billion component to our state’s economy, agriculture is a frequent user of this thoroughfare. This provision will continue to allow farmers to move their commodities from their farms to market safely and efficiently.”

The measure was originally introduced in a bipartisan bill written by Senator Baldwin. The measure will grandfather in the current weight limits on Wisconsin's portion of U.S. Highway 41 before the highway becomes part of the federal Interstate Highway System in early 2015.  Baldwin previously supported the same legislation when she served as a member of the House of Representatives, but the measure had been held up in the Senate for years. Senator Baldwin was finally able to break the logjam this year.

Federal law currently limits interstate roadways to a gross vehicle weight limit of 80,000 pounds, which is a lower weight limit than Wisconsin's state law permits.  Senator Baldwin’s efforts would allow the heavier trucks to continue to operate on a stretch of interstate highway between Green Bay and Milwaukee. A similar provision was previously enacted for I-39 in Wisconsin.

Without this effort from Senator Baldwin, many trucks would have been forced off Highway 41 and onto local, rural roads that were never designed to handle their size and weight.  This legislation will keep trucks on Highway 41 when it becomes a federal interstate, instead of forcing them to travel through neighborhoods with schools and winding county roads.  The Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Wisconsin State Patrol, which has the primary responsibility for traffic safety and commercial vehicle enforcement along Highway 41, both support this provision.

In addition, this 131 mile segment of Highway 41 between Milwaukee and Green Bay represents one of Wisconsin's vital economic arteries. Fifty percent of all international companies operating in Wisconsin have operations on the Highway 41 corridor. Nearly a quarter of all state-based manufacturers and retail establishments are located along the route, while businesses throughout the state use the highway to ship their products.

The effort to pass this provision received support from Wisconsin’s business, manufacturing and agriculture community, including:  Aggregate Producers of Wisconsin; American Trucking Associations; City of Oshkosh; FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative; Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce; Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce; Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association; Heart of the Valley Chamber of Commerce; Midwest Equipment Dealers Association; Midwest Food Processors Association; Northeast Wisconsin Chambers Coalition; Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce; Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association Transportation Development Association; Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce; Westside Association; Winnebago County Highway Commissioner; Winnebago County Highway Committee; Winnebago County Board Chairman; Wisconsin Agri-Business Association; Wisconsin Asphalt Pavement Association; Wisconsin Automotive Aftermarket Association; Wisconsin Automotive Parts Association; Wisconsin Bankers Association; Wisconsin Concrete Pavement Association; Wisconsin Counties Association; Wisconsin Dairy Business Association; Wisconsin Earth Movers Association; Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation; Wisconsin Grocers Association; Wisconsin Housing Alliance Wisconsin Independent Businesses; Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce; Wisconsin Milk Haulers Association; Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association; Wisconsin Paper Council; Wisconsin Petroleum Council; Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association; Wisconsin Ready Mixed Concrete Association; Wisconsin Restaurant Association; Wisconsin Towns Association; Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association.