153 Eligible Projects – Farmers Got The Message

If you don’t like the status of your current rural roads and bridges outside your farm – now, you can try and do something about it. That message obviously resonated with Wisconsin farmers, and they responded to the Agricultural Road Improvement Program (ARIP).

Wildly popular with farm groups, commodity organizations and the towns association, implementation of the $150 million earmarked for approved rural improvements is falling to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Joel Nilsesteun, Assistant Deputy Secretary at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), is overseeing the process. He spoke with Pam Jahnke about where the evaluation process stands.

Nilsesteun said at the end of the application period which occurred on April 5th, they had received 153 eligible projects. Those projects in total requested $252 million in financial assistance to make all the projects happen. Nilsesteun says a group of trained and informed evaluators have been put in charge of looking at each application and deciding its merit. He stresses that “storytelling” was a critical component of the process since the team couldn’t travel to actually evaluate each project proposed. He anticipates the final announcement on projects that will receive funding will be made sometime in the next few weeks.

Nilsesteun also noted that any qualified applications that don’t fit in the $50 million first round will roll over into the second round of funding consideration automatically. No dates have been announced when the second round might open for additional applications.

To be eligible for a grant under the program, a route or structure must have been posted for weight for at least one month in the previous year, be maintained by a local government and provide access to agricultural lands or facilities. Local governments can expect to have 90 percent of the cost for these projects funded by state grant dollars.

Priority will be given to projects that provide the greatest benefit to agricultural producers using the following criteria:

  • It provides the greatest positive economic impact.
  • It provides access to the largest number of farmers or volume of agricultural goods.
  • It improves the only practicable access to a farm field or facility.
  • It will result in the reduction of cost for farmers due to repeated trips at reduced weight, labor, fuel or mileage/wear on agricultural equipment.

For applicants that want to monitor the process, or potentially apply during the second round for funding, the Wisconsin Deparment of Transportation website will be the place to monitor.