Governor Scott Walker's proposed budget calls for spending several billion dollars on transportation needs, including the state's ports and harbors. This comes at a time when some say money is needed more than ever.
If approved, the Department of Transportation's Harbor Assistance Program would provide $10.7 million in matching grants to communities and businesses along the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.
A DOT study from 2010 found that $8 billion worth of goods moved through Wisconsin's ports each year.
Brennan Marine COO Kent Pehler says with that kind of economic impact, it's too bad the state isn't investing more money in its ports. He says this is at a time when federal money isn't coming in like it used to. "The big kahuna in all this is the maintenance of the infrastructure itself. I'm not going to advocate that the state of Wisconsin have responsibility for the entire inland waterways system, but it's just to bring to light the continued crumbling state of this infrastructure."
DOT Harbors and Waterways Program Manager Sheri Walz says the state money will help with dock improvements and the large dredging backlog. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently low on money for dredging. Walz says there's a high demand for Harbor Assistance Program money, and the state is unable to fulfill all the grant requests.