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Questions loom over road construction funds

Wisconsin has enough money to pay for its road work from this summer. But as the federal Highway Trust Fund heads toward a deficit, officials wonder if they can afford future projects - like the $1.8 billion re-building of Interstate-94 that's planned from Milwaukee to the Illinois border.

The Department of Transportation is counting on federal money to pay for at least half of the freeway re-construction - as well as a revamping of an interchange near the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Last night, the U.S. Senate put $8 billion into the Highway Trust Fund, to help other states pay for their summer road projects.

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., of Fond du Lac says states and communities have picked up bigger shares of highway costs, while the nation as a whole has fallen behind on its infrastructure.

State Senate Transportation Committee chairman Jeff Plale, D-South Milwaukee, says lawmakers will need to examine the issue next year, because we cannot shut down the highway system.

Federal money is supposed to pay for about a quarter of Wisconsin's highway projects in the two-year budget period that ends next June.

Nobody has wanted to raise the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal gas tax, although revenues have plunged because we're driving less.